A dad of two is gearing up for this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon to raise funds for the charity which supported his family while his little boy had cancer.
Jason Hardy, from Bodmin, Cornwall, will be pounding the streets of London on April 26 to support CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people with cancer.
Jason and his wife Liz were devastated when Matthew was diagnosed with leukaemia when he was 22 months old, in June 2006.
“I remember looking at my wife and bursting into tears,” Jason said. “All I could think was ‘he’s going to die’. Hearing my son had cancer was probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had. It was horrendous.”
Matthew was rushed to Bristol Children’s Hospital to begin the gruelling treatment for leukaemia. The family was given the keys to CLIC House, a home from home in Bristol run by CLIC Sargent. The home is a short walk from the hospital and provides free accommodation to families when their child is being treated for cancer.
Jason said: "We ended up staying there for five weeks. It was absolutely fantastic. The facilities are amazing. It meant we were able to bring our other son Billy, who was only six months old at the time, back up with us and their grandparents could also stay. We could also chat to other parents staying about what we were going through.
"I had to take time off work, about 11 weeks, which was a challenge."
Without CLIC House we would have had to travel to Bristol from Cornwall or stay in a hotel. I don’t know how we would have coped. We would have plunged into debt.
CLIC Sargent was also a huge support to Jason and his family in the four years of treatment that followed. Support included a nurse, who visited their home so they didn’t have to keep travelling to hospital for blood tests and treatment.
It is now five years since Matthew went into remission and Jason wants to raise money for CLIC Sargent to say thank you for their help. This is the second time Jason has run the London Marathon as he wants to win a marathon medal for both of his sons. He last completed the course in 2010.
Jason said: “If Matthew can beat cancer then I can beat the marathon. This time around I’m a bit behind in my training but I know I’ll get round the course. I’ve promised my boys I will run past Mo Farah, slap him on the bum – and tell him to keep going!
“In 2010 I weighed 23st 9lbs at the time and I’m 6ft 5ins – so not really the frame for long distance running! I’ve been back in my slimming group so will be about 18st 7lb by the time I do the marathon.
“I’ll never be able to raise the money to pay CLIC Sargent back for all they’ve done for us but I want to make sure I’ve done something to raise as much as I can. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been without CLIC Sargent.”
To support Jason visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JasonHardy