Bereaved Story

“The grief never goes away. It evolves as time goes on and you just learn to live with it. The milestones pass in life, and they aren’t there to experience them with you.”

Mahri Love shares her story of being inspired to sign up for the 2024 TCS London Marathon to raise money in memory of her mum, Linda, who died of pancreatic cancer in 2008.

“The inspiration to run the 2024 TCS London Marathon came when I started getting ads on Facebook. I ran the Edinburgh Marathon Festival in 2012 and afterwards, I said to everyone that I couldn’t do another marathon. I couldn’t face all the training again. But when I saw that advert for the TCS London Marathon last year, I decided on a whim to apply. I had just had a milestone birthday and it was just after the 15th anniversary of my mum’s death. I hadn’t even told anyone that I had applied and then I didn’t hear anything and forgot about it.

Then one day I received an email from Pancreatic Cancer Action saying they had a place for me in the 2024 TCS London Marathon and I had to decide quickly if I wanted to accept it. It seemed like a sign, so I decided to go ahead and say yes. If I had actually taken some time to think about what I was undertaking, I probably wouldn’t have accepted. 

My training is going well, and I did my longest run to date a couple of weeks ago. It was 20 miles, and it went well so it gave me confidence. I’m hoping my experience of running the Edinburgh Marathon Festival will stand me in good stead, but it is more than a decade later and I have two kids and my body is different now. I’m glad to say that I’ve hit my fundraising target. I’m impressed with how generous people are – there are people that have donated that I haven’t seen for 15 years. That not only shows the power of social media, but that my mum is remembered by so many. 

When Mum first started to feel unwell, I was living in Glasgow at the time, and she was up in Aberdeen. She had been trying to lose weight and was going to Pilates class regularly so her weight loss wasn’t noticed as quickly as it might have been otherwise. She also experienced some changes with her bowel movements. 

Mum wasn’t the typical fit for pancreatic cancer. She was 55, she didn’t drink, didn’t smoke. Because she was a diabetic nurse, she had some knowledge and the first thing she said to me, and my three siblings was ‘don’t google it’. Because of her experience as a nurse, she was able to manage her own blood sugar levels. She received scans and a biopsy, and the doctors hoped that was chemotherapy and radiation would shrink the tumour and allow them to operate. Unfortunately, Mum’s tumour was wrapped round an artery, so in the end they couldn’t perform surgery. 

She developed jaundice so she had to get a stent put in her bile duct. In September 2008, she received another scan and unfortunately the cancer had spread to her liver, and it was palliative. She died eight months after first being diagnosed. 

We also lost another family member, my husband’s uncle John, to pancreatic cancer in April 2020. He went downhill very suddenly and died a month after being diagnosed. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the family had to deal with a lot of it on their own. He barely drank alcohol, didn’t smoke, and was really fit. The indiscriminate nature of pancreatic cancer is troubling, especially now my children have it on both sides of their family. 

Running a marathon is so psychological. It is painful at the time and especially towards the end of the marathon, but my pain is short term. It doesn’t compare to the pain of chemotherapy and to what pancreatic cancer patients have to go through. 

All the people who have sponsored me have been huge motivators on the long training runs and undoubtedly will help me keep going when things get tough on the day of the marathon itself. I’ve done it before so I know I can get through it.”