A man who suffered severe, lasting, lung damage through Covid is to run his first ever marathon in memory of his mum who received care from the hospice at the end of her life.
Bryan Hucknall, 48, signed up to the challenge to support Nottinghamshire Hospice’s birthday appeal, launched this week.
Bryan, of Wilford, Nottingham, caught Covid in March 2020 around the time the UK went into national lockdown, along with his wife Rachel. While Rachel made a full recovery within a month, Bryan continued to struggle with his breathing.
He was eventually referred to a respiratory consultant who said he had a part collapsed lung and damage to the phrenic nerve controlling the diaphragm – which had moved up into the lung space. He’s under continuing observation and his condition – which has reduced his lung capacity by half – is classified as a symptom of long Covid. Doctors don’t know if he will recover the full use of his lung.
Undeterred, Bryan – who has been competing in running events since 2015, with four half marathons and four ‘Survival of the Fittest’ obstacle races under his belt – has signed up for the virtual London Marathon, which he’s running dressed as Superman! He’s hoping to raise £1,000 to cover the cost of two nights of overnight hospice care plus a visit a day for a week.
Bryan said: “COVID knocked me out of running for eight months. I’d get angry and jealous seeing others running, knowing I couldn’t run. I really missed being out there.
“This challenge is going to be hard. It’s a distance I’ve never attempted before, even when I was healthy. And I’ll have the added edge of doing it with less lung capacity. I won’t be as fast as I used to be, but I’ll keep going.”
Bryan chose to support Nottinghamshire Hospice in memory of his mother Anne who died last December, aged 70. For the last few weeks of her life, the hospice nursing teams provided overnight care and visits through the day.
Anne was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in January 2020. The hospice intervention enabled her to be at home at the end of her life.
Bryan said: “Nottinghamshire Hospice offered support at a time when there was no hope. They were experts in making my mum feel the best she could in those last weeks, days and hours.
“The overnight care gave us respite. The hospice care kept her out of hospital, had she been in hospital she would have been on her own. It would have been a very lonely and different death without the hospice. She passed away at her home with my dad, her sister and myself by her side.”
Bryan is currently training 4-5 times a week, clocking up around 35 miles each week. He runs from his Wilford home around the Embankment area and along the Trent. The week before the marathon, he’s running the Robin Hood half marathon as a warm-up.
He will join 49,999 runners around the world taking part in the Virtual London marathon and 50,000 running the actual race in London. He’s planning a route that starts at his parents’ house, goes past the hospice building on Woodborough Road, and takes in several of the hospice shops.
“I’ll be running the 26.2 miles in one go at the same time as the actual London marathon,” he added. “In my head, I can do this. With support from friends and family, the focus on why I’m doing it, and sensible realistic-for-me training, my body should be able to do it too.”
Bryan launched his fundraising page on his birthday as a way of supporting Nottinghamshire Hospice’s birthday appeal.
The hospice marked its 40th birthday last July but lockdown meant celebrations had to be cancelled. As its 40thyear draws to a close, they’re inviting supporters to get together in memory of loved ones and raise funds at the same time.
Supporters are encouraged to donate £40 to cover a year of care, put on a fundraiser, throw a party with family and friends or take on a fundraising challenge.
Rebecca Taylor, Community Fundraiser at Nottinghamshire Hospice, said: “We’re pleased we were able to support Bryan’s family when they needed us last year. We’re so impressed by what Bryan is doing in his mum’s memory and very grateful for the support, which will enable us to help other families.”
To support the birthday appeal go to www.nottshospice.org/birthday.