When 53 year-old Lambourn racehorse trainer, John Hills, sought medical help for some stomach pains in February 2014, it was less than a month before he was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer.
Despite chemotherapy, John deteriorated very quickly, passing away in June 2014. He remained cheerful, anxious to make the inevitable as bearable as possible for his wife Fiona and their four daughters Jessica, Olivia, Martha and Isabella.
Nine months later John’s brother-in-law, Michael Ollerenshaw also contracted Pancreatic Cancer and died within two months of diagnosis. The same illness has also taken the legendary Irish trainer Dessie Hughes, amongst a catalogue of “racing greats” who have fallen victim to this relatively unknown form of cancer; one which needs a great deal more funding for the necessary and often expensive research.
However, John Hills’ daughter, Jessica, is determined to help bring this scourge to an end and will be running in this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday 26th April 2015 to raise funds for, and increase awareness of, Pancreatic Cancer research.
“My Dad was an incredibly kind and fair man who had so much more to give his family, all his hundreds of friends, and racing itself. On March 2nd, Michael Ollerenshaw, my uncle, also passed away from this disease.
“The charity, Pancreatic Cancer UK, raises funds for research into understanding and treating this type of cancer and hopefully our help will go some way to supporting this aim. My very simple hope is that through the Just Giving website, we can arm doctors with the knowledge they need to be able to treat and cure this disease. I will be running in memory of both of these wonderful men for this cause.”
Jessica isn’t alone in her efforts. Throughout the racing industry, more and more efforts are being put into fund-raising for Pancreatic Cancer research with for example, racing fan Richard Farquhar, walking to all 60 racecourses on mainland Britain, in one unbroken chain over 2,600 miles. Dinners, racedays, quiz nights, racing syndicates and many other events are all being planned to help fund research much of it in memory of John Hills and in the race to help fight Pancreatic Cancer.