A seven-year-old girl from Lincoln took up the running mantle and raised more than £600 for charity after her father was diagnosed with tonsil cancer while he was training for an ultramarathon.
Mike Jones, 40, was diagnosed with cancer in October last year after a lump the size of a golf ball appeared on his neck. Surgeons removed a signifiant tumour from his throat before he underwent six weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
At the time of diagnosis, he had been training for an ultramarathon, so his daughter Thea Jones decided to run a mile every day in the 20 days leading up to her birthday. She has already raised £615 for the cancer support charity Macmillan – make a donation here.
From the moment Mike was diagnosed he was supported by two Macmillan nurses, Katie and Wendy, at Lincoln County Hospital. It was their unwavering support for the family that inspired Thea to fundraise for Macmillan.
Mike said: “Katie was in the room with me when I got my diagnosis. She was really good as I had so many questions. The doctor went about it in a very matter of fact way.
“I appreciated that she didn’t sugar coat anything but Katie stepped in and gave us the news in a different, softer way, contextualising what the doctor had said. She was very caring. She was there for me and the whole family.
“Macmillan were there for me in so many ways. There was this guy called Andy who was a volunteer at the Macmillan information and support centre. He would come round and chat to us while we were having chemotherapy. He told me about his own cancer experience.
“I used to dread going down to the chemotherapy suite, but it became quite cathartic in the end. He had a really big impact on me.”
Thea said: “My daddy had cancer and Macmillan was helping him so I decided to run for Macmillan. I wanted to have a challenge!”
Mike struggled with the change in lifestyle, having previously been very active, running marathons and travelling the world as a military photographer. When Thea set herself a running challenge for Macmillan it meant the world to him.
He said: “We are a running family. We used to go out as a family and do park run together every weekend so Thea is a good little runner. I wasn’t sure at first if she’d stick with it but she absolutely smashed it! I’m so proud of her.”
Mike has just finished his chemotherapy and is currently waiting on the results to find out if he needs anymore treatment.
Throughout his treatment Thea and her 8-year-old sister Erin have kept his spirits up by leaving him ‘I love you daddy’ notes and making him laugh with their no nonsense approach to his cancer diagnosis. Mike’s wife Becky also helped him to stay strong at home.
He said: “After I’d had my diagnosis, my wife Becky and I sat down with them and explained it in a matter of fact way. We were honest with them as we wanted them to feel free to ask questions.
“We gave them each a notebook to take to bed and encouraged them to write down anything that was on their mind. Some of the letters they left us were heart-breaking and others made us laugh so much. They were never scared of the word cancer.”
Jamie Davenport, Fundraising Manager for Macmillan in Lincolnshire, said: “I was so touched when I heard what Thea was doing for Macmillan to support her dad. She is definitely one of our youngest and most determined fundraisers!
“It’s thanks to amazing supporters like Thea that we can continue to fund vital cancer services in Lincolnshire and do whatever it takes to support people living with cancer.”