A BANNOCKBURN mum will be taking on the London Marathon to raise vital funds for an Alloa-based charity.

Joanna Panese will mark her five-year cancer free milestone with the 26 mile run through the UK capital, with all proceeds going to Cancer Research and Scottish Autism.

The mum-of-two will take on the challenge this Sunday, April 21, aiming to give a little back to the research she insists is the reason she is still here today.

She said: “I will always be grateful for the research that saved my life and gave me more time with my girls.

“Cancer was and is awful. Just five years ago at the end of intensive cancer treatment, I was at the lowest point of my life.

“I felt broken and down, physically and mentally. I couldn’t have even imagined a future where I was training to run 26 miles.

“But running has helped me slowly rebuild my strength and to move towards a new, happier chapter of my life.”

Joanna is currently a practice and community development lead for Scottish Autism, based in Alloa and was working there when she received her initial diagnosis in October 2018.

Since then, she has undergone chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which was very draining for her, and thanked her employer for the support she received.

She continued: “I will always be grateful for the support that Scottish Autism gave to me during my treatment and I am glad to be able to give something back by way of a donation to our Clannalba service.

“This will provide the opportunity for the individuals who are supported there to access exercise opportunities in an environment which is appropriate to their sensory needs.”

Karen Wilson, income generation and partnership lead at Scottish Autism, praised Joanna for hr work, citing her as an “inspiration” to other colleagues.

She added: “We are incredibly grateful to Joanna for using her London Marathon experience to help raise funds for our services.

“Joanna’s strength and courage during her cancer journey has ben an inspiration to us as her colleagues and we will all be rooting for her as she takes on the marathon on April 21.”

Joanna’s fundraiser can be found here.