My Run for Cancer Initiative - R42 for 42 km


My name is Alison Kelly, my husband Gareth Kelly was diagnosed with Stage 3C Colon Cancer on the 9th of January 2019. Gareth and I, together with our son Ethan, had just emigrated to Thailand and our lives changed forever on this day. Six months prior to this we had a normal life, and in one visit, everything changed. My daughter Michaela was still in South Africa and the Covid Pandemic had just started so there we no flights into Thailand. It really does sound like a draft script from a horror movie. Fast forward to 2023, Gareth Kelly passed away from his disease on the 20th of September 2023, at the Harold’s Cross Hospice in Ireland. Gareth and I met in Pietermaritzburg, at St Charles College, where Gareth was an Old Boy and where he spent countless hours teaching, coaching Rugby and where we eventually married. We both loved travel and Gareth was inept at finding far away destinations where he could continue his teaching career. Gareth was a dedicated Teacher and talented coach and was truly gifted with developing young talent and this he continued at Rugby School Thailand. Gareth’s diagnosis was a shock for us and for the first year, after multiple surgeries, and chemotherapy, we honestly thought we had the upper hand. We felt confident that we were heading to remission. Unfortunately, after a good few months, the Cancer was back and this time it showed no mercy. In the latter stages of the disease, we decided to move to Ireland as we had to look at long term cancer treatment and for family support. This all cost a fortune and we thought, no better place to be than the EU with hospital care from NHI. We were still fighting the Cancer and Gareth was adamant that he would overcome this. He never gave up until his last breath. Gareth never stopped working throughout his treatment and managed to secure a new teaching position at Clongowes Wood SJ College in Ireland. Unfortunately, he managed to only work for 8 days, however the impact he made in those days, made me immensely proud of who he was as a person, Husband, Father, and humanitarian. During our time in Ireland, he would spend about 2 weeks in hospital and eventually was transferred to the Hospice, where we finally said our last goodbyes. How do you pick up the pieces of life after Cancer? I wasn’t sure how to do this. It was all a whirlwind of moving from Thailand to Ireland and back to South Africa. What do I do now? After Gareth’s passing, I felt shattered, suddenly my days had countless hours, before it seemed like time was on fast forward. Now every hour felt like a day. I had to do something to keep my mind and body focused. Running, I thought, I was moderately good at this. As the kilometres got longer, I started thinking about how much further I could go. What could be as hard as what we had just been through, living day to day just didn’t seem enough for what Gareth had endured. And then it dawned on me, running a marathon, followed by the Greatest Ultra Marathon – The Comrades. Gareth had run Comrades, and my dad was also a Comrades Runner, competing alongside the Great Poobie Naidoo.

My contribution would be to run for a worthy Cancer initiative, partner with the Msunduzi Hospice, and do this for my husband, who died at the age of 42, survived by his parents, brothers, son, daughter, extended family, and the hundreds of people that had the honour of meeting him. I have chosen the Balwin Dolphin Coast 42km marathon, which starts in Ballito and follows a scenic route along the M4 with a backdrop of the amazing Dolphin Coast. Join me by contributing a minimum donation of R42 for 42km, donating all proceeds to an Institution that cares for families in their darkest hours, and providing care and medical assistance when they need it most. Thank you, Alison Kelly

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