Double cancer survivor takes on half marathon for dementia research in honour of dad who died with Alzheimer’s
19 March 2018
A mum-of-two who has battled cancer twice is taking on a half marathon to raise money for dementia research in honour of her dad who died with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Jenny Brown, who lives in St Lawrence on the Isle of Wight, is one of around 300 runners signed up to take on the inaugural London Landmarks Half Marathon on March 25 for Alzheimer’s Research UK.
She was inspired to support the UK’s leading dementia research charity as her father, David Doyle, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 aged 60 and died in November aged 67.
As well as dealing with her father’s dementia, Jenny also had her own health problems. She has battled two different forms of cancer, both times being diagnosed when one of her sons was around six months old.
The 39-year-old was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2011 after noticing a lump in her breast while breastfeeding her first son. After having chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment she was cancer-free for five years but was then diagnosed with cervical cancer following a routine smear test. More treatment followed, along with a hysterectomy. She is now into her second year cancer-free.
Jenny and her father’s experiences highlight that while decades of investment in cancer research means there were treatments available to her, investment in dementia research has lagged behind and there are no treatments to slow or stop the progression of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
“The two cancers weren’t related, I was just incredibly unlucky. But I’m lucky I’ve got an amazing support network. My husband is bullet-proof and was fantastic.
“I’m very fortunate that I was able to receive world class treatments. Cancer survival rates have increased greatly thanks to research. And look at AIDS, it was a death sentence not that long ago, but now it’s treatable and people can live well with it. I’m hopeful dementia research will have the same effect in the future and people won’t have to go through what my dad went through.”
Jenny’s brother Steve Doyle is also running the London Landmarks Half Marathon for Alzheimer’s Research UK. Between them they have raised more than £13,000, including many donations from friends and former work colleagues of their father.
The first time it was noticed something was wrong with David was when he started making mistakes at work. He was a biochemical engineer and one of the founders of a company called eXmoor Pharma Concepts. Just a few years after the company was set up he had to retire early due to his symptoms.
“Although it’s obviously a devastating diagnosis to get, we as a family tried to look on the bright side and he was always extremely positive.
“I think keeping busy helped him a lot. My dad was never somebody who would sit down and watch TV during the day so we weren’t expecting him to sit around doing nothing. We always tried to do stuff with him until he couldn’t do it anymore and then we’d move on to something else.
“He and my mum moved to the Isle of Wight when they retired and were very happy living here, having sea views and walking on the beach every day. The last thing he could express was his wonder of nature.
“Although we tried to stay positive, it’s such a cruel disease as it slowly robs the person from you. It was extremely hard to watch someone who was so intelligent gradually stop being able to do things and then eventually making no sense at all.”
David was also a senior visiting lecturer at University College London and after he was diagnosed he volunteered for research studies at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.
“Because my dad was a scientist he was very aware of the importance of research. He was very keen to be involved in dementia research to help people in the future. That’s why we want to support Alzheimer’s Research UK.”
To sponsor Jenny go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/inmemoryofDJD
Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said:
“We can’t thank Jenny enough for taking on the London Landmarks Half Marathon for dementia research and sharing her inspirational story and her father’s heartbreaking story.
“The vital funds raised by her and the hundreds of people running for Alzheimer’s Research UK will power world-class research projects and help bring an end to the fear, harm and heartbreak of dementia.”
Alzheimer’s Research UK is one of the main charity partners for the London Landmarks Half Marathon and will be bringing a large group of volunteers to cheer on the runners, with special activities planned at Cheapside. The cheer station will pay homage to London’s much-loved markets with traditional stalls and volunteers dressed as stallholders handing out oranges as part of the charity’s #sharetheorange campaign.
For information about taking on a sporting event to raise money for Alzheimer’s Research UK, go to www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/support-us/fundraise/events