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David Brain

In March of 2006, my Dad breathed his last breath after a two year fight against pancreatic cancer. He was sixty-one years old. He was my best friend. The experience changed me forever.

As anyone who’s been through something similar will know, the weeks that ensue are, for want of better words, ‘a bit weird’. You walk around in a bit of a daze expecting that person to walk into the room or phone you, but they never do.

When organising the funeral, we stumbled upon a problem. My Dad didn’t like flowers. It was a running joke in the family that he never once showered my Mum with roses. As a result, we wanted any money that would have been spent on flowers to be donated to a decent charity. This is how our family got involved with the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund.

Along with the usual things that come along with grieving, I decided to try and regain some of the fitness I lost to a boozy three year degree in Leeds.

Being a male and therefore in charge of an ego, I immediately set my sights on the London Marathon. After mulling over the idea for a few days, it dawned on me that I broke out in a sweat just thinking about it and decided to scale down my ambition. My Mum suggested that I give Maggie a call at PCRF and ask to run the British 10k London run. “10k sounds manageable” I thought, and dialled the number.

I’ll spare the details, but essentially I ran the race. Being someone hardly able to spell ‘athleticism’, the goal I set myself was to finish in under an hour. I staggered over the finish line in 59 minutes and 44 seconds, just behind a man with one leg and a woman with no heart. Nonetheless, I was happy.

The point is, running the race and getting sponsored were all a product of the most upsetting and terrifying time of my life. But knowing that the money was going to PCRF, a charity focused on the research and understanding of a hard to detect and devastating disease, made it easier and worthwhile.

Ideally, I would love to have never had to run the race; I would have never heard of pancreatic cancer and I would still have my Dad to laugh with. Unfortunately, life doesn’t always pan out the way you want. You have to work with what you’ve got and if that means going beetroot red and panting like an over-heating dog in front of thousands of onlookers, then so be it. I’m sure he would have been waiting at the finish line, laughing his head off.