A UNIVERSITY student is making a marathon effort for cancer research after learning her dad is terminally ill.
Jo Fitzgerald, 20, is taking part in the overnight Shine marathon in London on September 28.
She was already planning to raise cash for Cancer Research UK after her dad, 52-year-old William, was diagnosed with the disease.
But Jo’s efforts were redoubled last week when medics said the cancer had spread from her dad’s lymph nodes and become terminal.
Jo, of Swallow Close, Uttoxeter, has bravely opened up to the Advertiser and praised her father’s ‘selfless spirit’.
She said: “I’ve only known it’s been terminal for a few days and it was just unimaginably horrible to be told my dad’s going to die.
“But his reaction was only about how his family would take the news, which is just typical of how selfless he is.
“I struggle to speak out about my feelings about this so I wrote him a letter saying how thankful I am for everything he’s done for me and my family.
“Before last week I just thought it was in his lymph nodes and hadn’t spread.
“He was having his treatment as normal and you just have this feeling that everything’s going to be okay because he’s your dad and he’s always been there.”
Despite the news, Jo is ‘massively excited’ at the prospect of helping charities for those blighted by cancer.
The former Thomas Alleyne’s High School pupil said 12,000 people have already signed up to the Shine event, which takes place near her Bucks New University base, where she studies musical theatre.
She is urging others to pledge money on her Just Giving page or commit to taking part in the marathon, which see participants walk 26 miles between 7.30pm to 4am.
Jo, who is pursuing a career as a creative therapist, said: “There’s so much negativity attached to the word cancer but, strangely, there’s so much positivity around the charity.
“They just need money to carry on their amazing work, which sees them donate to cancer research and help charities like MacMillan Cancer Care.
“I had aimed to raise £200, which I’m 60 per cent on the way to achieving, but am now aiming to raise a lot more.“
“Even if people aren’t willing to contribute financially, I’d love to see more people getting involved with the event.”
Anyone wanting to contribute to Jo’s total can do so online at www.justgiving.com/JoFitzgerald.
More information on the event is available online at www.shine.cancerresearchuk.org.