A grieving grandfather from Ashton under Lyne will take on the Great Manchester Run this year to help raise money for The Christie in memory of his grandson, Freddie Lowe, from Rochdale. Freddie tragically died of a rare childhood cancer last year at the age of 3.
Des Lowe, 58, will run in Manchester’s iconic 10k mass partition running event as a tribute to Freddie who was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of cancer in the nasal area, in October 2020.
Freddie’s diagnosis came following a short illness that appeared to start with a cold and sore throat. The toddler underwent 9 months of treatment for the tumour at the back of his throat, which included chemotherapy and 28 sessions of proton beam therapy.
The proton beam therapy took place at The Christie in Withington, at the time, the only NHS centre in the UK providing the treatment. A second centre at University College London Hospitals has since opened.
"My grandson Freddie was typical of any other little boy of that age, cheeky, loveable, inquisitive and full of fun, energy and life," said Des. “Freddie was brave and courageous throughout his illness and touched the hearts of so many people, I will miss him always and love him forever.
“Losing Freddie to cancer has been devastating, and whilst he is always in my heart and in my mind, each day is difficult. Cancer doesn't discriminate, it can affect any of us in our lifetime, but it was so cruel to lose Freddie at such a young age.
“He had such a cheeky smile. In many of our family photos, he would do a thumbs up gesture showing his cheeky mischievous manner.
“The care that Freddie got at The Christie was exceptional and my family is so grateful for everything they did for Freddie.
“Doing the Great Manchester Run for The Christie is the least I can do to help give something back to such a wonderful organisation that helps so many people with cancer.”
Des Lowe with Freddie
This isn’t the first time Des has run in memory of Freddie. Along with Freddie’s dad Chris, he ran the Manchester Marathon last year to raise money for charity in Freddie’s memory.
By his own admission, before Freddie got ill, Des could barely run for a bus. “I only ran about 500 meters the first time I went out,” said Des. “I couldn’t run for a bus, but I slowly built up my distance and stamina and after shedding around 3 stones in weight I completed the Manchester Marathon with Chris last autumn.
“The running was a bit of an escape from all the awful things that were happening, and it gave me time and space to help sort my head out.”
Des, who is a retired railway safety expert, now hopes to raise more awareness of childhood cancers, the impact they have on families and the scale of the challenges that families face when a child has a life limiting cancer.
Abbie Wick, sporting events officer at The Christie said: “We are all so grateful to Des for taking on this year’s Great Manchester Run in memory of Freddie and for helping us to raise awareness of the valuable work The Christie does.
“Proton beam therapy is a kinder and more precise form of radiotherapy for children like Freddie. The Christie charity helps to fund the UK’s only dedicated proton beam therapy research room and some of the specialist equipment the researchers need inside it. We also need donations to help fund specialist research at The Christie into cancers affecting teenagers and young adults.
“The Great Manchester Run is such an iconic event, with its party atmosphere, great entertainment, big name runners and thousands of family members and friends to cheer the runners along. We are so grateful to all our Team Christie runners like Des who together make a huge difference to the lives of our patients.”
The Great Manchester Run takes place on 22 May. Runners can choose from the 10k distance or take on the challenge of a half marathon. Tens of thousands of runners will be cheered on by their family and friends with fabulous music and a party atmosphere through.
To sign up to run for Team Christie and run cancer out of town, please visit our Great Manchester Run event page or call 0161 446 3400.
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.