12 August 2022

Running 12 half marathons in 2022

Matthew Boyd-Wallis works for a private school in Fareham. Married for 14 years, they have two sons, Benjamin, 8 and Téo, 16. Family is a big part of who he is…

“In 1988 my Nan died of breast cancer. I was only 16 at the time, and after losing my dad when I was seven, my Nan was like a second mum to me.

My mum, Suzanne, now lives only five miles away from us; she has always been checked for cancer as her mum died of it.

In June 2016, she discovered a lump. Examinations showed there were multiple cysts, which she had removed, but at the time were not cancerous.

We are a close and she loves her family. She looked after both of my sons and niece when they were younger and loved spending time with them. Then in October 2017 she started to feel tired and drained all of the time.

Investigations showed that she had developed lumps in her breasts again, but this time it was breast cancer.

She was referred to Southampton General Hospital for treatment. It was stage three cancer, advanced and aggressive.

I got scared at that point when she told us.

Runner

She was accepted for a type of chemotherapy from America and incredibly, after four months of chemotherapy, she went into remission.

She had 18 months at home before we discovered the cancer had come back. This time on the other breast and she was taken into surgery start away, having her upper and lower lymph nodes removed. She had a course of radiotherapy and again she was told that the cancer was gone.

Over the next year, she started getting pain in her hips, repeated infections and the fatigue came back, so she went for CT scans. They found two tumours, one wrapped around a kidney.

This time she was told she had lymphoma that she needed another round of chemotherapy. We were told that this time it wasn’t going to go away but could be controlled and possible to live with it.

During and after treatment, she got multiple chest infections, so was treated for weeks on the cancer wards at Southampton General Hospital in the isolation rooms.

It was just before the start of the pandemic. We were only allowed to see her wearing masks, gowns and gloves, which we were all to later experience at the height of the pandemic.

I thought we were going to lose her because she was just getting infection after infection and it was taking so much out of her each time.

Cancer has touched a lot of us in one-way shape or form nowadays, but the staff at the hospital, they deal with it every day.

One of the doctors who treated my mum I used to coach when she was a child. It’s gone a full circle. She was a young swimmer when I was starting my coaching career and now she’s a doctor. What’s more, she remembered me! She was amazing looking after my mum and I never got to say thank you.

So now I want to say thank you to every single one of staff in Southampton.

They were there for us when mum had a bad night. Just some of the little things the staff did have stuck with me over the years. The smiles, the constant updates, the shoulders to cry on, the genuine care, respect, and love they showed my mum.

Now I have an opportunity to help them and repay their kindness!

12 half marathons in 12 months

Mum is still undergoing treatment and investigations in Southampton, but in late 2021, I wanted something to focus on.

A friend of mine came up with the idea of running 12 half marathons in 2020, but the pandemic struck and we were all put on hold.

Medals
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In 2022 I took his idea and thought I could take on that challenge for Southampton Hospitals Charity.

Running is not something that I enjoy. I’m nearly 50, and while I love swimming and being physical, running has always been a mental stumbling block for me. I can run up to about 10 miles and then hit the wall.

Despite this, I am on track to complete 12 half marathons this year, coming in at around the two-hour mark.

My favourite one so far is Fleet. My wife used to live there, but going through the side roads, the scenery was beautiful.

It took us down some roads that I did not even know about and the atmosphere was incredible as the people of Fleet came out to cheer us on. It made a real difference!”

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