Mum of two Nicola Harding was only 39 when she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Just 16 weeks later she died, leaving family and friends devastated, including her husband Andrew and two sons then aged 17 and 6.
To raise awareness of this ‘silent killer’ as it has become known, her brother-in-law Ian Simpson, also from Bedford, is taking on the London Marathon on April 24, exactly a year to the day that Nicola died, aged 40.
The 45-year-old accountant is hoping to raise at least £2,000 for Pancreatic Cancer Action on the marathon following 16 weeks of training.
He said: “If by raising funds it both raises awareness and promotes earlier diagnosis and helps save families from losing loved ones so quickly and cruelly, then the blisters, chafing and aching limbs will all have been worth it.”
Nicola was diagnosed with the cancer in January last year.
Ian said: “After a very happy christmas, Nicola began to show some of the signs of what we now know to be PC and it was in early January when she was told the devastating news.
“It was a terrible shock to all but was particularly devastating for her husband and childen, and immediate family, her sister - Michelle my wife - her parents, nieces and nephews, and close friends. Everybody was as positive as they could be, believing that Nicky could have surgery and treatment and that it would all work out in the end. But at each turn, there was just more bad news until, just 16 weeks later, Nicola passed away.”
In her lifetime, the 5-year survival rate for PC of 3% had not changed.
Ian, a father of two himself, paid tribute to the kind, lovely mother: “Nicola was very popular, had a great sense of humour, and was liked and loved by all those she came into contact with.
“Her eldest son sat his A Levels, and turned 18, just days after her funeral. Showing great adversity, he secured the results he needed to get into the university of his choice, which would have made Nicola very proud.”
Until taking on the marathon challenge Ian only ever used to run short distances, the most being the Bedford Park Run on a Saturday of 5k (around 3 miles).
Ian, who also lost one of his aunts to PC, said: “I knew that running 26.2 miles was going to be tough but its great to know that I will be raising funds to improve research and make people aware of this terrible disease that is remarkably underfunded in terms of research.”
To donate to his fundraiser visit https://www.justgiving.com/Ian-Simpson44/ or text to: PANC71£? (replace the £ with the amount to donate).
>> Pancreatic Cancer Action is committed to working towards earlier diagnosis so that more patients are diagnosed in time for potentially life-saving surgery and treatment.
PC is the UK’s fifth biggest cancer killer with the lowest survival rate of all 21 common cancers.
In the UK approximately 9,000 people are newly diagnosed each year.
It affects men and women equally and warning signs include mid-back pain, indigestion, low mood or depression, fatigue and jaundice.
It is often called a ‘silent cancer’ because the early symptoms are often vague and unrecognised.
Nearly 50,000 new cases are diagnosed annually and though it is not necessarily the best-known form of the disease it is among the deadliest.
For more information on the disease and the charity’s work visit https://pancreaticcanceraction.org/