For years company director John Aitchison had ambitions to run a marathon but always managed to find an excuse not to – until he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
John’s diagnosis in January last year changed his outlook and gave him the motivation to take on the 2018 Asda Foundation Yorkshire Marathon in aid of Pancreatic Cancer UK.
John, 45, who is married with two young daughters and lives in Acomb, said: “Around Christmas-time 2016 I unexpectedly started turning yellow and itching a lot. Initially it was thought to be caused by a gall-stone stuck in the bile duct, but after various tests I was later diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. In late February I underwent major surgery, and by April I was feeling well again, and ready to start a six month course of chemo.”
Half way through his chemotherapy treatment, John managed to complete the York 10K and, despite missing his target time by an agonising three seconds, said he had an amazing day and enjoyed incredible family support. Now his sights are firmly set on this year’s Yorkshire Marathon on Sunday 14th October.
He said: “I've always wanted to run a marathon, and have a brother and several friends who have done so, but - like a lot of people I guess - I always seemed to run out of time, or will power, or talked myself out of it somehow.
“My diagnosis and subsequent treatment changed my outlook completely. I was very lucky that it was caught early enough and I could have surgery. Having made quite a few diet and lifestyle changes, I'm feeling really well and I get out for a run 3 or 4 times a week.
“Getting the Yorkshire Marathon in the diary was about setting myself an ambitious but achievable target that would help me to keep looking after my health, and show that surviving and thriving after such a diagnosis is possible.
“The York 10k was an opportunity to raise some money for Pancreatic Cancer UK and the Yorkshire Marathon will be the same.”
Pancreatic cancer survival rates make for grim reading.
John said: “Only 4 per cent of those diagnosed will survive five years or more. That awful statistic has not changed in 40 years. Of those who have surgery, up to 25 per cent will survive five years or more. Of course that covers all operable patients, and the odds vary by age, and fitness. Mostly, it is discovered too late, and only 8 per cent of those diagnosed are operable.”
John said more investment was needed.
“Despite being the 10th most common cancer in the UK, it attracts less than 1 percent of the total cancer research budget,” he said.
“What this cancer needs is more investment, both in supporting charities, and in clinical and other research. That said, last year saw progress - a new chemotherapy combination was shown to improve post-operative five-year survival by about ten percentage points. We need more of the same.”
The marathon is staged under the umbrella of Jane Tomlinson's Run For All, the group behind the popular Asda Foundation 10K Series, the Leeds Half Marathon and the Sheffield Half Marathon.
These events, along with the marathon, stand as part of the lasting legacy of the late fundraiser and campaigner Jane Tomlinson, who raised almost £2m for charity by tackling a series of epic challenges, including cycling over 4,000 miles across America despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer.
It’s challenging, it’s exciting, it’s emotional, it’s rewarding – and it’s also a fantastic opportunity to support the work of some wonderful charities.
The Asda Foundation Yorkshire Marathon will raise tens of thousands of pounds for good causes as many entrants tackle those 26.2 miles to raise money for their favourite charity.
And for those runners out to hit a fundraising target, here’s a few money raising tips.
People taking part in the Yorkshire Marathon can raise money for a charity of their own choice or support one of the event’s partner charities which are the Jane Tomlinson Appeal; Macmillan Cancer Support; Candlelighters; The Children’s Hospital Charity; Alzheimer’s Society; Martin House Children’s Hospice; Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice; St Leonard’s Hospice; St Gemma’s Hospice and the Stroke Association.
For full details of the partner charities go to www.runforall.com/events/marathon/yorkshire-marathon/partner-charities.