When thousands of people take to the streets of York in this weekend’s Plusnet Yorkshire Marathon Tricia Rees-Hughes will be among them.
Tricia from Brafferton, North Yorkshire only took up running six years ago as a way to getting fit.
“I had always wanted to run a marathon but bringing up three children and working as a teacher in West Yorkshire I just didn’t have the time. But when I retired I had more time to put training in and get fit.” It was also the encouragement of husband Dave, a former marathon runner himself, that got her to enter Sunday’s York Marathon and put a training schedule together.
And she has another reason to take part in the marathon which raises thousands of pounds for good causes.
She is raising money for Yorkshire Cancer Research after the disease has unfairly blighted her family.
When her daughter Laura was about 18 months old she as diagnosed with clear cell sarcoma, a malignant tumour in her left kidney which was too large for doctors to operate.
“She was transferred from Doncaster Royal Infirmary to Sheffield Children’s Hospital and was given chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before they could operate. She was given a 50:50 chance of survival,” explains the grandmother of two.
“She under went 12 months of chemotherapy, but she was only two at the time and seemed to take it all in her stride.”
Laura is now 29 and lives in the Lake District although she still has to go for hospital check ups on a regular basis. “We feel very lucky that she got the treatment she needed. There have been a lot of advancement in the treatment of cancer since then and a lot of that is funded by people doing sponsored events like the marathon.”
But four years later just as Tricia and her husband Rob were getting life back to normal and had had a third child they received the devastating news that Rob was suffering from an inoperable brain tumour.
“He had started with some numbness down one side. He was referred to the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield and we were told it was an aggressive brain tumour. He died seven weeks later,” she recalls. “He was 47. I was devastated but I had three children and just had to get on with it. Friends and family were amazing.”
Ten years earlier her mother-in-law Betty Simpson had passed away in 1983 from a secondary cancer following an initial breast cancer diagnoses in 1963.
Sadly Tricia’s second husband suffered heart attack when she was 57. She had already started running and completed the Great North Run for the British Heart Foundation.
But sadness and cancer refuses to leave Tricia alone.
She married again in 2009 and with Dave, a keen runner, they joined Easingwold Running Club.
But last year the couple received some devastating news.
“My husband Dave and I received our routine bowel cancer screening kits in the summer of last year when we turned 60.
“Dave’s first test was unclear but his second was abnormal and following a colonoscopy some polyps were removed, one of which was unfortunately malignant. Following, blood tests, a CT scan and detailed observations of the biopsy he was pronounced disease free and will now have a yearly colonoscopy. This will be due round about the time I run the marathon.
“But we have been lucky again though,” says this pragmatic Yorkshire woman.
“Without money spent on research into treatment and tests we wouldn’t have had the early diagnosis. He has to under go further tests but they are hopeful they have got it all.”
Despite having had her life blighted by cancer and illness Tricia remains up beat and determined to do her best on Sunday.
“I am so grateful for the care and compassion which my family received from the NHS during these difficult times but much more money is needed if we are to beat this dreadful disease,” she says.
“I appreciate that my story is not unique and that if you are reading this then it is likely that you will have lost family and friends to this disease.
“If you choose to donate and would like to mention your family member or friend in your comment then I will write their name on a purple ribbon which will be sewn onto my running vest in their memory.”
Tricia is already well on her way to her target of £500 but anyone who wants to support her should do so at www.justgiving.com/Tricia-Rees-Hughes