Man, woman and child standing outside the sunderland afc grounds wearing pancreatic cancer uk tops for the big step forward

Sharon's Big Step Forward Story

Sharon's dad Geoff sadly died from pancreatic cancer in 2019, just six weeks before his first grandchild, Erin, was born. Now, Sharon, her husband and Erin take part in The Big Step Forward every year in his memory.

Sharon’s dad, Geoff

Sharon’s dad Geoff was an amazing man with a passion for Sunderland A.F.C and The Clash. When he started to experience digestive issues and back pain, he and the family put it down to his job as a painter decorator. But when Geoff woke up with jaundice, he went straight to A&E where scans revealed a mass in his pancreas. Unable to have surgery, Geoff sadly died in July 2o19, just six weeks before Erin, his first grandchild, was born.

Now, Sharon, her husband, Erin, and other family members take part in The Big Step Forward every year, in memory of Geoff, and for the 80% of people who are diagnosed too late to receive life-saving treatment.

Sharon and her daughter Erin walking on grass
Sharon with her daughter Erin

Geoff’s diagnosis

“My dad came out jaundice in July of 2018. I’d just seen him the day before. Everything seemed fine, but when he woke up on the Sunday, he was yellow. When they found a mass, we weren’t sure what it meant yet. There were a few of us with him. I just burst into tears when I heard the word cancer and gave him a big hug. The entire time, he was trying to make me feel better, saying “you don’t know yet, you don’t worry yet!” Unfortunately, cancer was confirmed a short while later.

“My dad did have difficult days, but he kept his spirits up and never lost his sense of humour. Surgery was off the table, and tragically, Dad could only have one round of intense chemotherapy, in part due to several setbacks which delayed treatment. In June 2019, we were told the devastating news that my dad’s cancer had spread. He died just a short while later, on the 1st July, surrounded by his family.

Taking on The Big Step Forward

“When my dad passed, I had actually signed up to do the Great North Run 2020 for Pancreatic Cancer UK. To be honest I think I signed up because it was part of me trying to cope with it. But then it didn’t go ahead because of Covid, so I had a bit of a Google, looking for something else we could do. And that’s how I came across the Big Step Foward. We’ve taken part every year since.

“We do a different route which honours my dad each year. The first year we did the walk locally across South Shields. We set out to do five miles but ended up doing about eight. The second year, the whole family took part. That was the year my dad would have been 60, so we thought it fitting to get everyone together for him, naming our team the Clash 60 Rockers in tribute to my dad’s favourite band. Last year we walked from the Stadium of Light, the home of my dad’s football team, and along the coast back to South Shields. Our family all met us at the end, and we raised a glass together for dad.

“Each of the walks have been so memorable and enjoyable. The older my daughter Erin gets, the more she can take part. It connects Erin to her grandad. She often talks about her Granda Geoff and knows that he is the reason we do our special walks in our purple t-shirts. She didn’t get to meet him, so this is such a great way to pay tribute to him. That’s definitely one of my favourite things about The Big Step Forward.

Sharon with her daughter Erin, wearing Big Step Forward t-shirts
Sharon with her daughter Erin

The Big Step Forward 2023

“To anyone considering taking part in The Big Step Forward I’d say just do it. It’s honestly so rewarding, and the community is so lovely. I’m part of the Facebook group and everyone is always posting pictures of their team and commenting on each other’s posts with support and encouragement.”

On Saturday 15th July, our pancreatic cancer community will come together to take on The Big Step Forward 2023.  Join the team and take steps towards transforming the future, along a route which is meaningful to you.

Take on The Big Step Forward