The wife and friends of a local man with a brain tumour are teaming up this weekend for the Southend Half Marathon raising money for Fair Havens Hospice.
‘The Dan Knight Warriors’ will be running the 13.1 mile race on Sunday 12th June in the name of 39 year old Dan Knight, who is described by members of the team as “an absolute legend.” The group of eleven has raised over £1,500 already for Fair Havens Hospice where Dan goes every Tuesday to Day Care for respite. In 2012, after experiencing symptoms including losing his peripheral vision, excruciating headaches, collapsing and sickness, the father of two from Leigh-on-Sea was told he would have no more than two years to live.
Days before a big family holiday, his wife Sarah arranged for Dan to see a private neurologist. Sarah, 41, said,
“With my hand on my heart I told them I thought there was something seriously wrong, and I didn’t think he was fit for flying so the consultant agreed to do an MRI scan the next day.”
Later that afternoon having returned home with Dan and their daughters, Eloisa and Imogen, who are now eight and six years old, Sarah found numerous voicemails saying that Dan must not get on a plane because he had a brain tumour which was 6cm in diameter. Within a few days, Dan had surgery to remove the tumour and after recovering at home, they returned to the hospital for a follow up appointment.
“I was scribbling things down and the consultant was describing different brain tumours. Dan said to him, ‘Are you telling me it’s cancer?’ and he said ‘Yes’. I remember specifically at that point, saying no, it can’t be. I was gobsmacked. I wasn’t expecting it at all.”
At the end of an eight month course of chemotherapy, Dan’s scans showed he had another tumour on his brain. Further surgery wasn’t an option so Dan began another course of treatment which would prolong his life by stopping the tumour from growing.
In November 2015 Sarah returned to work part-time and was also in training for the London Marathon.
“I felt incredibly guilty for a long period of time because I’d been with Dan all the time and now I needed something for me, something where I wasn’t ‘Sarah the Carer’. When I was training for the marathon it made the kids want to go running and Dan would go out walking and he’d often walk past Fair Havens.”
Dan went into the hospice on one of his walks to find out what it was about, and followed it up with his Doctor who referred him for care.
“I just thought to myself, I’m terminally ill with cancer, I should have a look at this place. I’ve never been shy so I thought I’d walk in there and find out what they can do for me. I was always so worried that the other people there would be really negative, but they’re a good bunch. I know we are all going to face death but I like the way we are all fighting in some way, we all continue our own little fights and I like fighters.”
It is with this fighting spirit that Sarah formed ‘The Dan Knight Warriors’ and will be leading the team across the finish line on Sunday.
“When Dan is at Fair Havens it’s a bit of respite for me. I was at breaking point and I couldn’t cope anymore, I just couldn’t keep spinning all of these plates. If Dan is in trouble or needs my help then I want to be there for him but at the same time I need time off from being a carer. I feel incredibly guilty for that, but I do. I do fear, what if? What if he has a seizure? What if he forgets where he is? He could wander off at any time but when he’s at the hospice I know where he’s at. I know he’s safe for that day.”
To donate to ‘The Dan Knight Warriors’ visit www.justgiving.com/TheDanKnightWarriors
The team will be joining over 2,000 other runners on Sunday for one of Havens Hospices most popular fundraising events. The race starts at Shoeburyness East Beach.
Online registration is now closed but runners wishing to take part can sign up on the day between 8am and 9am.
For more information visit www.havenshospices.org.uk/southendhalf or call Events Fundraiser Jane Hopkins on 01702 221658.