His brother and both parents have died of pancreatic cancer in the past eight years.
Now Andy Kirk is lacing up the running shoes and hitting the pavement
The Tauranga runner is on a mission to raise the profile of a cancer that has taken so much away from him.
He will compete in the 2020 Auckland Marathon in November as a tribute to his mum, dad and brother and to raise a few thousand dollars for the Gut Cancer Foundation.
Andy says he used to do quite a bit of running up until Mum died.
“I couldn’t be bothered after that. I found my mojo again after my brother died.”
It was on Christmas Day last year that he decided to run the marathon – about a year after his older brother died of pancreatic cancer.
It will be his first marathon and he is training six days a week and running about 70km.
“At Christmas time last year, one of my friends decided to go running and persuaded me to go along. I quite enjoyed it and I started getting fitter.
Andy’s mum June, who lived in the United Kingdom, died of pancreatic cancer about eight years ago.
In 2016, Andy’s dad Geoff was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Andy flew over to the UK for his funeral in March 2017.
In mid-2018, he received a phone call from his brother Rob delivering more bad news.
“It was all good for about a year and a half then I got a phone call from my eldest brother – who told me he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
“I went back to the UK in August of that year. He was having an operation, and they thought they may have caught the cancer in time.
“But we found out it had wrapped itself around a major artery, and they couldn’t do anything for him.”
Three months later and he was back in the UK for his funeral.
It’s quite rare to lose three family members to pancreatic cancer.
“This doesn’t normally happen. But one surgeon told me to get checked regularly because pancreatic cancer can be genetically passed on.
“It obviously did affect me when my mum and my dad died – but it really affected me when my brother did. I was so close to him.”
He says leaning on family and friends has helped him through each death.
“When my mum died – my dad and my two brothers helped me through. When my dad died – my two brothers helped me through. And when my brother died – it was just my other brother helping me through.”
Running regularly has also played a large part in his healing, he says.
“I love it. There’s no one around, I put my music in and I can just zone out.”
Andy is stoked he can keep fit and healthy, raise money for charity whilst also pay tribute to his mum, dad and brother.
The link to Andy’s fundraising page can be found here.
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