Together, the Walker family are taking on pancreatic cancer by running the London Marathon 2019 in memory of Ray - father to Seb, Calum and Justine and husband to Vanessa. Calum tells us how pancreatic cancer has affected their family and why they are determined to make Ray proud.
In September, my Dad Ray was sadly diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and within 7 weeks he died. He fought an incredibly brave, courageous fight but this form of cancer is severely underfunded and incredibly hard to detect and treat.
As a keen runner, one of the first things dad said to us after receiving his prognosis was "maybe one of you can run a marathon for me?" and with numerous failed ballot applications in the past offering a mixture of disappointment and relief we, as a family, now felt as though we had a greater purpose for running. We were determined to do this for him.
Vanessa and Ray's last photo together
My Mum Vanessa, my brother Seb, and I had all applied for charity places, and a couple of weeks later Seb and I were accepted. We were both overwhelmed, emotional and excited by the news to do something positive at such a devastating time for us all. Dad was very pleased at our commitment and he thought it was rather remarkable that we had raised half the amount of our target in 3 days after setting up our JustGiving page. The level of support and the motivation for doing it was incredible, and we were very grateful that he got to see how much people were behind him, how much we loved him before he was taken from us.
Alongside Mum, Dad was a keen member of our local running club - the Stilton Striders, and before he was ill he was the biggest critic of their local running statistics, times and personal bests with frequent analysis and algorithms plotted on people's performance, pace and form - often with both hilarious and annoying comment for hours on end after every local parkrun or club run!
As a family we were so lucky that the club gave their one marathon place to Mum as they knew how much it meant to us as a family, to the local running community and the wider cause of battling this truly awful disease. And although Dad didn't get to witness Mum getting her place he always said she would do well at a marathon, with her steady and consistent stride getting the better of him at numerous half marathons in the past! We know he would be proud of her too and we would all love it if he was our coach, critic and commentator on race day.
Seb, Vanessa and Calum
It is unlikely we will all run the marathon again, either together or for such a good cause so the one thing we are all collectively looking forward to is flying the flag for Pancreatic Cancer UK and giving our best effort in memory of Dad. But the race is just one element of all of this, the journey towards it has been incredible; the training has been the welcome distraction for our minds, the races have been the sanctuary for us to be together on so many weekends and the fundraising has been the fulfilment and purpose to raise as much awareness as possible and hopefully help others out in the future.
Dad will be in our hearts and minds on race day and we promise to do our best.