'My physical and mental well-being has taken a beating over the past few years' - dad runs London Marathon in memory of his four year old son
PUBLISHED: 15:14 01 April 2019
A dad from Ely is running the London Marathon in memory of his four year old son who died from cancer in February last year.
Henry Wright, an electrician, will be taking on his first marathon challenge on Sunday April 28 to raise money for CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people.
The charity is close to their hearts as they supported the family following their son Douglas’s shock cancer diagnosis.
Henry, 51, said: “It’s going to be a really big challenge for me as it’s my first marathon.
“I wanted to do something tough, not just for Douglas but also to help with my own physical and mental well-being which has taken a beating over the past few years.
“Even if I’m one of the last to finish, I’ll be spurred on by thinking about what Douglas went through and this will get me over the finish line. It’s all mind over matter and I will get there.”
Douglas, three at the time, was a ‘happy and normal little boy’ before he started to complain of having a sore tummy and found it difficult to walk.
Henry said: “Douglas became quieter and wanted to be pushed around in the buggy as he found walking uncomfortable.
“It soon became clear that this was more than an upset tummy. We thought maybe he had a hernia or perhaps appendicitis.”
Henry and his wife Jane took Douglas to the doctors, who sent them to their nearest A&E at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
Douglas quickly received an ultrasound as his stomach was enlarged, and the next day the paediatric oncologist told the family that Douglas had cancer.
Henry said: “It was a huge shock. You never think of children getting cancer, particularly your own child.”
During this difficult time, the family were supported by both a CLIC Sargent nurse and a CLIC Sargent social worker, who provided emotional, practical and financial support.
Henry said: “Our CLIC Sargent nurse acted as our interface between consultants and us- she was lovely, straight-talking and honest; she could always translate medical jargon in a way we could understand.
“We also had our CLIC Sargent social worker- when we were first admitted she came around with a purple bag which had all the essentials we needed.
“At a time when everything was such a shock it was really useful to have. She also told us what we entitled to financially and helped us fill in forms - it was really important to get her advice.
“CLIC Sargent was the glue that held us together and they were so important.”
After a year of different treatments, Douglas’ cancer returned in February 2018 and he was referred to Great Ormond Street Hospital for a final trial, which sadly didn’t work and the family were told that there were no further treatment options available.
Douglas spent his remaining time at home, where he passed away surrounded by the people who loved him on February 15, 2018.
“Until Douglas was ill, I never thought that cancer could happen to my child- it’s changed my outlook and my views on mortality.
“It’s made me realise how fickle life can be and that things can just change- it’s made me realise that time with loved ones is the most important thing.
“Words cannot describe how much we miss him.”
Since signing up to the marathon, Henry has been training hard and running 18-20 miles during weekends, whilst also recently completing the Cambridge half-marathon in preparation.
Jade Clarke, Major Runs Project Manager at CLIC Sargent, said: “We rely entirely on donations to fund our vital work and so we can’t thank Henry enough for their incredible efforts and in Henry’s memory.
“Training for a marathon is a huge commitment. From all the lie-ins Henry has sacrificed to get out of bed and run to every blister they’ve encountered – we are so appreciative of their hard work and determination.
“We’ll be there on the day cheering Henry all the way to the finish line!”
• To sponsor Henry’s London Marathon effort go to his fund raising page.