I'm running to raise money and awareness for Pancreatic Cancer UK because pancreatic cancer survival rates are still too low.
When you’re sitting, waiting with fragile hopes, in a hospital room for relatives, it’s brutal to be told instead, ‘the operation was a complete success – but we couldn’t remove the cancer.’ Pancreatic cancer is known as the ‘silent’ killer because many of its symptoms reflect less serious illnesses meaning that by the time diagnosis is confirmed it’s often too late – which is what happened to my dad. The Whipple procedure, the major surgery he withstood, which might have prolonged his life, came too late.
I’m afraid I can’t provide photos of sad kittens or cute puppies to make my chosen cause seem more appealing. Pancreatic cancer isn’t very pretty, it’s cruel, it ravages strong beautiful bodies and is no respecter of fame, talent or fortune. All we have left are a few reminders of what the disease took away from him, and ultimately, from us
I still have my dad’s last pair of glasses complete with his fingerprints. Light Titanium frames with sprung sides and high-index lenses. On a ‘cost per wear’ basis they were never going to be a good investment, but medication combined with the dying of his own light had played cruel tricks with his vision. But my dear friend, Jill, Best Optom in the World, did her best for him and this pair gave him a few more weeks of reading pleasure – not the dense, academic tomes he’d previously relished, perhaps, but at least he could read a newspaper, engage with the world a little and enjoy his stamp collection.
After his death, they came to me. When I opened the case there was another slip of paper placed beneath the cleaning cloth. Phone numbers. Waypoints for the final path. Mum’s mobile, my sister, our husbands, my two grown-up daughters and me.
I have a set of book cases Dad made for me. He was a carpenter and joiner, often called in by architects when they needed someone with traditional skills who could make oak staircases, roof lanterns or sash windows.
The back pain he suffered with pancreatic cancer was relieved a little when he leaned forwards. He made himself a lectern so he could read sitting at a table. It now sits on my desk.
A wooden block also sits on a corner of my desk. It’s an intensely personal and profoundly moving object. What is it? Well, it’s one of pair, the last things Dad made for himself which were designed to keep his bed at a more comfortable angle during his final weeks.
And the rest of our tangible memories are photographs of the man we loved, lost and miss every day. One of a kind, my dad
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth leading cause of all UK cancer deaths, but research into the disease is extremely underfunded and survival rates have not improved in forty years. It’s too late for my dad, but someone else’s dad might live longer if those survival rates improve. Please help if you can. That's why I'm putting on my running shoes again - to help Pancreatic Cancer UK win their race to beat this cruel disease.