Norman Whitwood, a 71 year old rare pancreatic cancer survivor, set himself the challenge of running the Milton Keynes marathon on the 4th May to raise vital funds for the charity Pancreatic Cancer Action.
Norman, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in August 2012, was one of the lucky few to be diagnosed in time for life-saving surgery, which is currently the only cure for pancreatic cancer.
Early diagnosis in time for surgery is essential for survival and surgery (Whipples procedure) is currently the only cure. 82% of people diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in the UK die within a year.
“I was lucky. Because I was fit I knew immediately that something unusual was wrong so I got myself checked and diagnosed relatively quickly,” says Norman. “Also my tumour was not too developed and operable. Plus, because I was fit I stood the chemo well and my recovery has been progressive and bearable – apart from pounding out the miles in training for the marathon.”
Training for the marathon was not without its glitches, after successfully following his training plan and completing a 20 mile run, Norman suffered an internal bleed. This is not unusual after having a Whipples procedure, but it meant that Norman couldn’t run 200 yards, let alone the miles he needed to do in training. Shortly before the marathon he was getting back in to his training and ready to take on the challenge!
Norman completed the marathon, running alongside another member of his running club, Harpenden Arrows based at St George’s school sports centre: “I had great support from the crowds as well as friends from Harpenden Arrows and my family. It’s a tough course, it’s supposed to be flat around Milton Keynes, but it’s not!”
Norman raised well over £2200 for Pancreatic Cancer Action, a charity committed to working towards earlier diagnosis with the focus on educating the public and medical community as well as funding research. They also campaign for more funding from the government in to research, which currently stands at less than one per cent of all cancer research funding.
Ali Stunt, Founder of Pancreatic Cancer Action and a rare survivor of the illness, said: “We are delighted that Norman took part in the Milton Keynes Marathon and raised an amazing amount of money for Pancreatic Cancer Action. How inspirational that he is a pancreatic cancer survivor too!”