Thursday 5th November 2020
A Royal Air Force (RAF) aircraft engineer from Newport, South Wales, is running 5k a day for 27 consecutive days this month, to raise money to help find a cure for the disease which killed his brother.
Dad-of-three Corporal (Cpl) Michael Hard, 39, has taken on a daily 5k run since 1 November and has pledged to continue running 5k every day until 27 November 2020, the fifth anniversary of the death of his brother Anthony. He is raising money for the charity Brain Tumour Research to help fund research into the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40.
Anthony Hard (pictured) was just 36 when he died in 2015, after battling an oligoastrocytoma brain tumour for four years. Anthony left behind his wife Nahella, daughter Reagan (now 17) and son Casey (now nine). Anthony, who also served as an aircraft engineer in the RAF, received his devastating diagnosis after becoming ill while on Operation HERRICK in Afghanistan in 2011. After weeks of suffering from headaches, he had a seizure at his military base and medics found a grade 2, golf ball-sized tumour in his brain.
The diagnosis came just eight days after the birth of his son Casey, who suffers from severe epilepsy, cerebral palsy and spastic quadriplegia.
Michael, also a veteran of Afghanistan, said:
“Ant bravely went through gruelling surgery to remove as much of the tumour as possible and he stayed well for a few years. When the aggressive cancer returned, doctors bought him more time with further surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy but we knew his prognosis was stark and by July 2015 his speech was really badly affected, his seizures were increasingly frequent and he was given just three months to live.
“Ant was a wonderful big brother. In spite of everything, he was really positive. He always had a smile on his face and was the life and soul of the party; he loved singing and karaoke and would be the last one on the dance floor at the end of the night. He is so sorely missed.”
Michael has fundraised for Brain Tumour Research in the past, completing the Newport Marathon in 2018 and usually holding a charity golf day every April, but the pandemic put paid to those plans this year. His original plan with the 5k challenge was to complete the runs either in and around Brize Norton or Newport. However, Michael had to quickly adapt when, on 6 November, he was notified that one of his contacts had contracted Covid-19.
“I’ve been thrown a curveball, as I now have to self-isolate for two weeks. I’ve decided to continue the challenge but I’ll be doing it in my garden! I’ll be running from my front gate, down the side of my house and around the back. It’s not ideal but it’s outside and it keeps me moving.
“I also knew I wanted to do something different this year, to mark five years since Ant passed away from this terrible disease. He was a fitness fanatic and gym freak, so doing a physical challenge seems fitting. When I’m out jogging, that’s when I do my thinking and thoughts often turn to Ant.”
Michael, who works with 47 Engineering Squadron, is based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire during the week and lives with his family in Newport the rest of the time. He is married to Beth and they have three children, Olivia, 11, Elsa, nine, and Sebastian, six.
“I completed the first 5k with my daughter Olivia – she’s planning to join me for a run every weekend. I have been overwhelmed by the support I’ve had from relatives, friends and colleagues, who’ve donated generously and even taken on their own 5k runs, in solidarity.
“My wife and I recently discovered our close family friend Rachel, a mum-of-two, has been diagnosed with an astrocytoma brain tumour. Her shock diagnosis is another reminder of just how underfunded this area of cancer research is and how more awareness is needed to help find a cure.”
Joe Woollcott, Community Fundraising Manager for Brain Tumour Research, said:
“Anthony’s story reminds us that brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, less than 20% of those diagnosed with a brain tumour survive beyond five years compared with an average of 50% across all cancers. We cannot allow this desperate situation to continue.
“We are so grateful to Michael for coming up with this innovative fundraising idea and we wish him all the best for the rest of the challenge. Like so many of our fantastic fundraisers, Michael isn’t letting lockdown get in the way of his efforts and we’re sure he will inspire lots of people to get involved and donate.”
Brain Tumour Research funds sustainable research at dedicated centres in the UK. It also campaigns for the Government and the larger cancer charities to invest more in research into brain tumours in order to speed up new treatments for patients and, ultimately, to find a cure. The charity is calling for an annual spend of £35m in order to improve survival rates and patient outcomes in line with other cancers such as breast cancer and leukaemia and is also campaigning for greater repurposing of drugs.
To donate via Michael’s fundraising page go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Michael_Hard