North Devon IT support engineer Kevin White has set himself the challenge of running the equivalent of four marathons in a month to raise money for two cancer charities.
Kevin is inspired by wife Debbie, a nurse in the social care and health team in Barnstaple who has been diagnosed with cancer twice in the past 10 years.
He is raising money for Exeter-based FORCE Cancer Charity and Breast Cancer Care and has set himself a target of £250.
Kevin, 44, is running at least six kilometres every day throughout June, which will give him a total distance in excess of one marathon a week.
He’s doing on a treadmill linked it to an app which allows him to watch his progress on a TV in a virtual setting with other runners and cyclists, which helps motivate him.
Kevin explained: “Back in 2010 the most important person in my life was diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Following months of difficult treatment and her desire to survive, she found the strength to beat it and was subsequently given the all clear.
“In 2017 she had the devastating news that it had come back as a secondary cancer that had spread elsewhere.
“Somehow, she has mustered up the same desire and strength to not give in to it, and currently things are being controlled with treatment.
“Throughout all this, apart from where treatment dictated, she has continued to work on the frontline as an NHS community nurse looking after people in their own homes.
“The current Covid-19 pandemic has meant she can no longer work in the community due to ongoing chemotherapy treatment, meaning she is immunocompromised, but is still busy working from home contacting patients via phone and supporting her colleagues.
“She is my wife, Debbie, and I am so lucky to have her in my life. She is amazing!”
Kevin is posting his progress daily on his fundraising page – uk.virginmoneygiving.com/KevinWhite29 – and Facebook. Halfway through the challenge he was halfway to his target.
He used to be an occasional runner but stopped about 12 years ago and a combination of no exercise and a poor diet led to his weight climbing to over 20 stones.
“It’s easier to put on than take off,” he admits but has decided to take control with diet and exercise and began running again.
“Doing it every day is a big challenge with my level of fitness but the benefits are two-fold – an opportunity to improve my fitness and weight and raise some funds.
“Running is a popular way to raise money but because I can’t go out with Deb shielding, I fixed the treadmill. I’m enjoying it. I’ve struggled some days, especially when it was hot but it’s more comfortable in the cooler weather.”
He and Debbie have been married for nearly 20 years and she is proud of her husband’s efforts.
“I think it’s a lovely, especially in this time of lockdown when it’s so hard for charities to get funding,” said Debbie, who was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
She had treatment at the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital and discovered FORCE, which supports local people affected by cancer at its Support and Information Centre and outreach clinics in Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton.
The couple tapped into all sorts of help including counselling, relaxation classes, a course on life after cancer, a Look Good Feel Better pampering session and even advice on travel insurance.
Debbie explained: “At the time I was first diagnosed there was nothing like this in North Devon.
“I found FORCE very helpful. At times it can feel like you are in the middle of nowhere not knowing where to turn. FORCE helped me to put things into perspective.
“We came to a breast reconstruction evening where I was able to chat to women who had gone through the same procedure and it helped me to make a decision.
“I had already read about it but having the chance to talk to people who had gone through it was really helpful.”
In 2017 Debbie received the devastating news that the cancer had returned and was now in her thoracic spine. She had chemotherapy treatment and is now on a management dose of chemo tablets.
Kevin chose to raise money for FORCE for the support they have received and Breast Cancer Care for the funding of research into the prevention and cure of breast cancer.
They are close to Debbie’s heart and she said: “You’ve got to have hope – that’s everything. You’ve got to keep going and believing there’s something around the corner.”
* NEWS FLASH * NEWS FLASH * NEWS FLASH *
He’s done it!
Kevin completed his challenge with a couple of days to spare so he ran another half marathon to celebrate.
He’s raised £800, including Gift Aid, and hopes to get that total up to £1,000.
Here’s his update:
“Today was day 30 and I successfully completed my 30th run, having run every day in June.
“I completed my original challenge of running the equivalent distance of four marathons and also the bonus challenge I set, to run an additional half marathon over the last two days. I ran 12k yesterday and 10k today.
“So that works out at a total of 120 miles! A massive distance to me!
“A huge thanks to all who have supported me with ride ons, kind comments on my posts, group runs and especially those who have sponsored me.
“I feel like I’ve found a new bunch of friends and intend to stick around and do more runs with you all, hopefully increasing pace and distance.
“One final reminder of why I did this challenge – to raise much needed funds for two cancer charities, Breast Cancer Now” and FORCE Cancer Charity.
“If you, or someone you know is touched by breast cancer, please do turn to these charities for help and guidance.
“Breast Cancer Now is the charity that’s steered by world-class research and powered by life-changing care.
“They’re here for anyone affected by breast cancer, the whole way through, providing support for today and hope for the future.
“They’re a trusted friend that you can turn to for caring support when you need it most.
“An expert authority on breast cancer research, making breakthroughs and driving forward progress and a vehicle for change, acting now to make sure anyone affected by breast cancer gets the best possible treatment and care.
“They believe that if we all act now, we can change the future of breast cancer and make sure that, by 2050, everyone diagnosed with the disease lives – and is supported to live well.
“FORCE Cancer Charity are a more localised charity, based in Exeter, Devon (with outreach centres in Okehampton, Tiverton and Honiton) and they offer guidance and support to those with cancer and their loved ones.
“They fund research and the purchase of specialist equipment, but also offer physical, emotional, psychological and practical support.
“If you are ever in need, I would urge you to seek out similar resources local to you as they really make a difference at a horrible time.
“FORCE helped us immensely, for which we will always be grateful and with my fundraising I am playing a small part in ensuring this help and support is available to other people who need it.
“Above all else though, this was for my wife Debbie. You are amazing!”