The son of one of Manchester’s leading cancer doctors has been inspired to run the London Marathon this year following his father’s shocking cancer diagnosis.
Harry Slade, a technology consultant, found out in May last year that his dad Richard Slade had been diagnosed with one of the deadliest forms of cancer - pancreatic cancer. Mr Richard Slade is a consultant gynaecological surgeon at The Christie, a leading international centre for cancer treatment and care in Manchester.
“I’ll never forget 7 May 2020 when dad first told me he had cancer,” said Harry. “My first reaction was definitely denial, but the way dad explained the whole situation really helped put me at ease. His approach made me see why he is held in such high regard by his patients and colleagues at The Christie.
“Pancreatic cancer is a brutal disease, one of the most deadly cancers due to the sheer difficulty in detecting it in the early stages. It can quickly spread to other parts of the body and when it is finally diagnosed it is often too late, in many cases, people only have a matter of months to live.
“The Christie is probably one of the main reasons why dad has been so positive throughout his treatment. They moved quickly to diagnose the specific type of pancreatic cancer and found the best people to help treat it. Fortunately, it was treatable.
“Dad was able to undergo a complex operation last summer to remove some but not all of the cancer. Due to the nature of the disease, it had already spread to the liver meaning he still lives with cancer today, although it is managed by daily treatments.
“As a family, our perspective on life has changed over the past year. Dad’s positivity is inspiring and helps all of us enjoy life to the full. Each day we get to spend as a family definitely means more now but that doesn’t mean dad gets any sympathy from me on the golf course.
“I hope dad is proud of me for running the marathon for such a great cause, but that pales into insignificance compared with how proud I am of how he has come through so many challenges over the past year.
“Dad is a truly remarkable man. I have been lucky enough to see the impact he has had on his patients who he always puts first above anything else. It must be strange for him to now be on the receiving end.”
Richard is currently taking the drugs Everolimus and Lanreotide and having regular scans and follow up appointments with his oncologist at The Christie, Dr Richard Hubner.
“I’m incredibly proud of Harry for running the London Marathon for The Christie,” said dad Richard. “Since first suspecting I might have cancer in April last year, Harry and all my family have been incredibly supportive and helped me through some very tough times. My colleagues at The Christie have also been very supportive and understanding.
“At one stage I thought I might have adencarcinoma of the pancreas, which was pretty awful as it does not have long term survival. Finding out it was actually a neuro-endocrine tumour meant I could have treatment. I had a Whipple procedure to remove part of my pancreas, a liver resection, cholecystectomy and a para-aortic lymphadenectomy.
“I’m very grateful to all those who have been involved in my care and treatment. I’m thrilled that the money Harry raises will go to help patients at The Christie in the future.”
Harry started to take running seriously during his final year of university after stopping playing football. “The 2 things I really enjoy about running are that I’m pretty decent at it and also the escape running provides is unique,” said Harry.
“The London Marathon is an incredibly special event which is unique in bringing different people together from all walks of life with their own special purpose for completing the event. The camaraderie on the day is fantastic and the support is always sensational.
“I ran my first London Marathon in 2019 and loved every single minute of it despite hitting the wall at mile 21. I still managed to complete the race in less than three and a half hours. My training is going well so far and I’m hoping to beat my time from 2019 as well as raising £5,000 for The Christie charity.
“Raising that much would be very emotional for me, knowing that it will fund further research projects which although they might potentially be too late for dad will help families in the same position in the future.
“The Christie charity has a fantastic team who regularly reach out to check up on their runners as well as making sure all the potential support they can provide is easily available.
“My dad is in a unique position as he has treated thousands of patients at The Christie and he has always said it would be impossible to provide patients at The Christie with the level of care they get without the fantastic work The Christie charity does. I honestly believe the only way we can beat cancer is through funding innovative research trials to further our understanding of the disease.”
“COVID-19 has severely impacted the ability of many charities, including The Christie, to raise funds meaning a lot of the critical research into pancreatic cancer has stopped. This drastically impacts the ability to find early diagnosis techniques and treatments that will help reduce the 25 people dying of pancreatic cancer each day in the UK.”
The Christie, in partnership with The University of Manchester and Cancer Research UK, is currently developing a new world class transformational research facility to replace the Paterson building damaged by a fire in 2017. The new centre will be at the heart of The Christie’s ambition to lead the world in clinical trial recruitment, supporting the development of new and kinder cancer therapies. The new centre will be operational in the first quarter of 2023.
Harry studied at Manchester Grammar School before completing a Masters degree in chemistry from The University of Manchester.
The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.