When I was 18, I went to Sheffield University to read Chemistry, my family were really proud and I was having a great time. However a month or so after starting my dad was taken ill at work and initially diagnosed with pleurisy. It didn't get better and the GP found a couple of lumps in his neck so referred him to the Hallamshire Hospital for a biopsy. We went to pick him up on December 21st 1979.
It's funny how some dates stick in your mind. We went to the ward and all of dads bags were ready for him to go home. The doctor asked if he could discuss the medicine we needed to take home with us. Mum and I went to the doctors office and he said "There's no easy way to tell you this, but I'm sorry, Hugh has terminal lung cancer." The rest of the conversation was a bit of a dream really, we asked the obvious question; "how long?" It sounds so cliched but we needed to know. The answer was about 8 months.
We set about making Christmas and especially new year something special, Dad was a proud Scot and Hogmanay was a special time for him. The reality was the 8 months was very optimistic. My dad died on 13th May 1980, a couple of days after my sister's 15th birthday. I always felt he hung on for that few extra days so that her birthday was not ruined. A man who had been a superb cyclist was reduced almost to a skeleton and was so light I could pick him up in my arms and carry him to the toilet. I can still remember him looking at me as I carried him and seeing the anguish in his eyes that he had to ask me to do that for him.
Cancer is a hell of a disease and if me walking a few extra steps every day helps make a tiny difference then I'm sure you can donate a couple of quid to this very worthwhile cause.