Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Father to run Great North Run two years on from triple-cancer diagnosis

Keith Farquharson, his wife, and his father were all diagnosed within five months of each other.

Keith and his father (Family handout)
Keith and his father (Family handout)

By Edd Dracott and Megan Baynes, PA

A father has signed up for the Great North Run two years after a triple-cancer diagnosis hit his family.

Within the space of five months, Keith Farquharson, his wife Amber and his father were all diagnosed with cancer.

In January 2017, his father, Mike, was diagnosed with stage four kidney and bladder cancer — in March the same year, his wife was diagnosed with stage one cervical cancer. Just two months later, Keith was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer.

After a successful surgery and radiotherapy, Amber’s tumour was removed and she is now in remission.

Keith said he “and his tumours” will be taking on the run tomorrow. (Family handout)

The 45-year-old software engineer told the PA news agency: “My father went through a particularly hard time with chemo. They stopped treatment after one 12-week cycle.”

His father, Mike, was put on a drug trial, which started to shrink the tumours.

Keith, from Heaton, Newcastle, said: “He made two more Christmases before he died in sleep in March this year. I had the honour of writing and delivering a eulogy at his funeral, and completing part of a challenge he had set — not to die before him, as he didn’t want to bury a son.

“A month before he died, I got confirmation that I had a place in the Great North Run.”

Keith took up running during his initial rounds of chemotherapy. After the drugs had no affect, he began a round of immunotherapy.

He said: “I started running during chemo and continued cycling for much of it, including commuting on my bike with the autofuser strapped out of my arm for two days every fortnight.”

Keith said he “and his tumours” are running to raise money for St Oswald’s hospice, for the care and support given to his father during his treatment.

He is also raising money for the Bobby Robson Unit, so that “others in the North East might benefit from cancer research as I have”.

He said: “I’m not sure I truly appreciated the scale of it – setting off from the centre of Newcastle with essentially the whole of St James Park on a match day around you.

“I am slightly nervous about the start as it’s my first attempt at the GNR and first half marathon in nigh-on 30 years, but I’ve trained fairly well for it, so I think I’m as prepared as I can be though I did have a dream about running it — I was somewhere near the Haymarket, dodging traffic, in the pouring rain, been running for 1h 40m, had miles to go and wasn’t going to be tracked as I’d forgotten my number — so maybe my subconscious disagrees.

“On the plus side I’m not in any pressure as getting to the start line alive was a primary goal, and finishing is enough.”



From Belfast Telegraph