A Heartfelt Reason to Run

Thu 30th Jun 2016

Image of A Heartfelt Reason to Run

Paul Dalkin, known as ‘Dolly’ to his mates, is running for Butterwick Hospice in this year’s Great North Run. 

Paul has not had experience of Butterwick Hospice services but his experience of the way in which Cancer tears families to shreds has convinced him that services like Butterwick Hospice, that are able to change the way families experience the loss of a loved one and end of life are worth supporting. 

Until that happy day when terminal illnesses are eradicated and Hospices are no longer needed we urge you to help Butterwick support families like Paul’s.

Paul's story, in his own words:

“In the old pit town of Stanley, County. Durham, the Dalkin family was centred around 5 brothers – all with decent size families, (the cousins numbered almost 20). They frequented several working men’s’ clubs and often dominated the committees with their combined purchasing power. This was a lively, boisterous bunch who often got together as a group for nights out and other family celebrations. Unfortunately, this family cohesion was lost over a few short years.

Autumn 1986

I and my twin were just about to sit our mock ‘O’ Levels when my Mam, Ann, discovered a lump in her breast and then went for a mammogram. The results meant the bottom fell out of our comfortable little world. There followed fear, denial and a mastectomy (after the sort of delays that just don’t occur in the NHS nowadays). “Phew – we’ve caught it”, or so we thought.

Emotionally, for me, the damage was pronounced. A removal of hope and sight of the future. A sensitive, pessimistic child anyway, I dropped in to a deep well of depression and apathy when I should have been looking to the future. I played truant for several months as I couldn’t face school (no one talked about such things with school friends then). When my behaviour was discovered, it could have been worse as no counselling was available and I simply had to put up with the punishment meted out. Empathy was thin on the ground. In the end, I managed to scrape 4 ‘O’ levels after last minute cramming.

November 1992

Mam’s sister, Auntie Pat dies of a brain tumour

Spring 1993

Dad, having had a heart attack the previous year still wasn’t right. As a diabetic, he had a routine which wasn’t working now. Mam smelled a rat. Dad had kidney cancer. He had one removed (a major operation) with the further stress and disruption and was given the all clear.

Autumn 1994

After a short period of stability in the family, Dad had developed a bit of a cough which wasn’t shifting. A chest x-ray confirmed the worst – he had stage 3/4 lung cancer. Not a physically robust (and intensely private man – even from his kids) he bore the burden of radiotherapy and stress with stoicism and humour to deflect his feelings. Despite being an avowed agnostic, he even dabbled with faith healers to help, the only results being lighter in the pocket and heavier in the morale.

3 June 1995

Dad breathed his last, riddled with this awful disease. For me, as well as the unresolved grief, I was saddled with years of recrimination and guilt over not convincing him to stop smoking – his ignoring of this message was very frustrating to a young boy. I viewed it as self-destructive behaviour for many years.

Autumn 1998

After travelling to Las Vegas for my sister’s wedding, Mam came back with a hacking cough. We thought she’s picked up a bug from the air conditioning on the plane. A chest x-ray confirmed that nothing was amiss. However the cough persisted. 

April 1999

Mam received news after a CAT scan that a tumour was embedded in her chest. Apparently it had been ‘missed’ by the x-ray due to the angle it was lying in her bronchial tube. A biopsy confirmed this was a secondary from her breast cancer 12 years’ hence.

10 July 2003

Mam died after 4 years of chemotherapy and radiotherapy as the secondaries appeared in her liver, spine, brain. She maintained that had a radiotherapy follow-up to her mastectomy been normal practice in 1987 it could have been eradicated the first time around. I closed her eyes in Newcastle General Hospital.

Summer 2001

Uncle Tony, a brain tumour.

Autumn 2007

Uncle Ted, pancreatic cancer.

Autumn 2008

Uncle Walter, prostate cancer.

Autumn 2008

Uncle Maurice, lung cancer.

Out of 9 siblings on both sides of my family, 7 have succumbed to cancer.

I met my partner, Jackie in 2010. Jackie had been widowed in 2008 as her husband, Richard, succumbed to cancer of the oesophagus, leaving Jackie and two children.

So you can see, cancer has been a big part of my life and the lives of those I love. I am doing the GNR 2016 for Butterwick Hospice in order to alleviate the pain of those whose lives are blighted by cancer and every other terminal disease and rely on the care, support and counselling provided by Butterwick and other special care centres like this.”

Paul Dalkin, Running For Butterwick, Great North Run 2016

How can I support Butterwick Hospice?

If you are still wavering on the brink of signing up for the Great North Run this year please do it now …because every moment counts - and help Butterwick Hospice to help families like Paul’s to cope with the challenges caused by Cancer and many other cruel diseases for which there is still no cure. 

Please sign up to run #GNR16 here, but don’t delay, entries close on Sunday, 3rd July 2016. Thank you!

If you would like to support Paul's fundraising for Butterwick you can sponsor him through this link to his JustGiving page https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dolly1970https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Dolly1970