PE lessons might be cancelled, but that’s not stopping Max Smith from keeping fit. Along with his mum, Hannah, 10-year-old Max is running a virtual marathon this June in memory of his Grandpa, Mike, who was lost to lung cancer last November.
“It’s safe to say Max is definitely not a runner!” Hannah explains. “More than anything, he loves to code, play Lego and climb trees.
We started running together in May as an alternative to doing Joe Wicks every day. During one of these runs Max announced that he wanted to work towards a goal and raise some money in memory of his Grandpa. I thought this was a great idea and so we agreed on a marathon distance of 26.2 miles. In a few short weeks his stamina, speed and confidence have all improved hugely.
My dad was 76 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Age was just a number to Dad, in fact this “old dog” had recently learnt to play the piano and was enjoying lessons. Mum and Dad were both very sociable and their house was always full of friends or family. Dad doted on his grandchildren and every year he would play a cameo role in their plays at Christmas – albeit reluctantly! There was a lot of love in our houses.
Max adored his grandpa. They had a very special relationship and Max looks a lot like his grandpa did at his age.
On family walks, Max would always seek him out and talk to him for hours about the things going on in his life. Max particularly loved helping him at the allotment and his grandpa taught him all sorts of gardening skills.
It was May 2019 when we had the devastating diagnosis. Dad had lost a significant amount of weight and had difficulty swallowing. He already had an existing lung condition, COPD, so any breathlessness was put down to that.
We were told Dad’s cancer was not curable, but it was treatable with chemotherapy. Three long months of chemo were administered, but Dad never complained and just got on with it. However, the last round really took its toll and he never fully recovered.
After his final round of chemo, Dad’s condition deteriorated, and he was taken into hospital. A week and many tests later, they discovered he had fluid around his heart which needed to be drained.
Afterwards, he returned home but a following meeting with his oncologist revealed the treatment had not been successful and the tumour had grown and changed shape. We got to spend another month with him before he was taken from us on 5th November 2019, just six short months after he was diagnosed.
Max wanted to raise money for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to make more people aware that early diagnosis is the key to treatment and longevity. The Foundation has been funding research into early detection for the last 30 years.
We found out about Dad’s condition too late but early detection could give others a better chance of survival and let other grandpas watch their grandchildren grow up and be part of their Christmas plays for years and years to come.
Home-schooling Max has meant we have had time to run together which would not normally be possible. It’s been lovely to spend time with him. Sometimes it can be hard to dodge people and maintain a social distance of 2 metres but Max is very good at getting out of people’s way!
I’m so proud of Max and I know his Grandpa would be too. It’s been a difficult six months since Dad died and the situation, we’re all in now is crazy but I think we will look back on our runs, and this time together, with such happy memories. Running has always been my thing and I absolutely love that I can now share it with Max.”
A huge congratulations to Max and Rachel for completing their marathon. Your I love the 90s medals will be winging their way to you very soon.