BY TOBY PORTER
Simon Hoggart swore when he did a half-marathon that he would never attempt the full 26-mile run. But the 34-year-old from West Norwood won’t have any problem motivating himself when he does attempt it on Sunday to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Action (PCA).
He will be thinking of his father, George, who died 11 years ago in his mid-50s. Simon is running the Valencia Marathon, and funding the trip out there and entry cost himself, and has already raised more than the £1,000 he planned to donate to the charity.
“The way pancreatic cancer affects you never gets any easier,” said Simon, whose mum Ann still lives in Balham. “It still affects you years later.
“What happened is a bit of a blur because my family shielded me a little – and I buried my head in the sand a bit.
“This is for my dad, but it is also for my mum. You never know when the worst is going to happen. People are running around trying to help and you never know what is going to make a difference.
“Pancreatic cancer is so deep in your body, the signs can show very late – and they are not particularly obvious. Jaundice is one of them and that can be caused by lots of things.
“The same with unexpected weight loss – and you can also be a bit coldy and fluey.
“It is very hard to treat. And with my father it happened relatively quickly and it was traumatic. I know I have blanked things out.”
He is running the gruelling distance in Spain at the weekend because it enabled him to train during the UK summer. “I could train in the warmth and after work,” said the assistant editor of academic publication the Journal of Animal Ecology.
“If I was to train for the London Marathon, I would have had to start training now, during the winter, that would have put me off – Valencia is a big one so it has a good vibe.
“I have had tendonitis in an ankle so I have not done as many miles as I would have wanted.
“After I completed the Royal Parks Half Marathon I swore I would never run a marathon but the thought of running for PCA changed my mind.
“I chose to fundraise for them because they really focus on raising awareness – which I think is so important.
“I want to highlight the importance of raising awareness so that early diagnosis is possible and encourage more funding to go into the disease.”
Pancreatic cancer is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer. The survival rate is just five per cent, which is the lowest of any cancer. PCA is committed to working towards earlier diagnosis of the disease so that surgery, currently the only cure, is made available to the sufferer.
The charity fund research into early diagnosis, provide medical education programmes, and awareness campaigns. Ali Stunt, founder of PCA, said: “We are delighted that Simon is giving his time to support PCA in this amazing challenge. We are very sorry to hear that Simon has lost his father to the disease but it is a great way to do something in his memory.”
Pancreatic cancer is the fifth biggest cancer killer. About 26 people are diagnosed each day and 24 people will die each day. But it receives just over three per cent of overall cancer research funding – a total of – £8million in 2015.
To sponsor Simon, go to Just Giving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/simon-hoggart