Keith Farquharson, 45 originally from Hertfordshire, has signed up to do his first Great North run this year for St Oswald’s Hospice, to celebrate 25 years living in the region.
In 2017, my father, wife and I were all diagnosed with various forms of cancer within a six month period; mine and my dad’s both carrying life-limiting prognoses. We made a decision early on that we would answer any questions our four-and-a-half-year-old son had as honestly as we could, and would tell him what was going on rather than hide it from him. This was obviously a difficult decision, not least for him, but with the prognosis being what it was you can’t lie to a child and say everything’s going to be alright, because at some point soon you are likely to have to badly disappoint them.
Unsurprisingly, he found it difficult to cope emotionally with what was going on around him. We turned to St Oswald’s Hospice which has a specialist child bereavement service and their therapist Beth helped him to talk about his worries and helped him to find strategies for dealing with what life was dealing him.
My wife underwent surgery and radiotherapy in June 2017, her tumour was successfully removed, though she has regular monitoring to check that the remission continues. At the same time my father and I started chemotherapy. During chemotherapy I continued cycling to work when I could and for the first time in many years started to run again as I find running helped ease the side effects, I continued running when I started on an immunotherapy trial as it helps clear my mind.
I’m not sure what made me choose to enter the ballot for the Great North Run, it seemed like a good idea at the time, despite the fact I might not make it to the start line. The last time I did something like this I was a teenager, so it was also a bit of a personal challenge to do something beyond my comfort zone. I've cycled fairly long distances before and rode the C2C again this year but haven't really run for years.
In September 2019, two and a half years after diagnosis, and after 18+ months of immunotherapy, my tumours and I will be running my first half marathon since the age of 17. I am running for both St Oswald’s and the Bobby Robson unit; St Oswald’s for the care and support they gave our son, and the Bobby Robson Unit so that others in the North East might benefit from cancer research as I have.