Last year when our charity team was out and about in the Children’s Hospital we met this very special young lady.

Giovanna Lessa Santos is fourteen years old and lives in Oxford. She and her dad shared their story: 

Last March Giovanna, known to most as Gio, discovered a small lump in her neck. After visits to the GP, courses of antibiotics and blood tests, she was sent to the hospital for an X-ray.

Sadly it wasn’t good news. The x-ray showed a cloudy area on top of her right lung so the very next day she was sent for a CT scan.

Gio explains: “The doctors detected a tumour and they later confirmed with a biopsy that it was a neuroblastoma, which is a cancer rarely found in my age group. 

“They also tested my bone marrow to check if the cancer had spread to my bones, but thankfully this came back negative.”

Gio was put on a chemotherapy treatment plan for 80 days, during which time she lost her hair and was very poorly. 

When the doctors checked the tumour after her chemo it had reduced by only thirty percent -  lower than they had hoped.

She was able to take part in a trial of new medication which is known to have a good response to this type of cancer.

Sadly, the side effects of the medication, which included hallucinations, became too much for Gio and she had to be put back onto a regular cycle of chemotherapy.

She is currently on her second bout of chemo and the family are hopeful that this round will shrink the tumour enough for it to be removed with surgery.

During Gio’s chemotherapy sessions, the family spent a lot of time on Kamran’s Ward at the Children’s Hospital. Gessiel, Gio’s dad saw the posters advertising the OX5 RUN and thought it would be great to gather a team together to help raise money for the Children’s Hospital that have become like a second family to them.

“We have reached 31 team members so far and want to get even more! Our aim is to raise as much money as we can for the Children’s Hospital.” 

Gio will also be one of our guests of honour who will help us to start the race on 24th March at Blenheim Palace.

If you have been inspired by Gio and her family there is still time to enter the OX5RUN. You can walk, jog or run the beautiful 5 mile route. Visit for more details.

If you would like to sponsor her, please visit