Leeds woman runs solo marathon in memory of dad who died of head injury after beating prostate cancer

A woman from Leeds has run a solo marathon in memory of her father, who beat prostate cancer but tragically died of a head injury just a year later.
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Bryony Turner, 29, hoped to complete the Edinburgh Marathon earlier this year but the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

After booking onto the Paris Marathon, which was also cancelled, she decided to run a makeshift marathon along the Leeds Liverpool Canal.

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She completed the run last weekend raising more than £2,000 for Prostate Cancer UK - a cause close to her heart after both her dad and granddad were diagnosed with the disease.

Bryony Turner, 29, with her late dad Martyn at her graduationBryony Turner, 29, with her late dad Martyn at her graduation
Bryony Turner, 29, with her late dad Martyn at her graduation

Bryony's dad, Martyn, had no symptoms but was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2013 after it was identified by a routine blood test.

Bryony, who lives in Horsforth, said: "I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when he called.

"I was in my second year of university and he never used to ring me off the cuff, so I instantly knew that something was wrong.

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“My dad was an incredibly strong character; he always just cracked on with everything. He once fell down some stone steps, broke several ribs and said he’d be fine and would just ‘sleep it off'."

Bryony at the Great North Run, which she ran in her dad's memory in 2018Bryony at the Great North Run, which she ran in her dad's memory in 2018
Bryony at the Great North Run, which she ran in her dad's memory in 2018

Martyn, who lived in Nottingham and was a financial director, underwent two months of hormone therapy followed by two months of radiotherapy without taking a single day off work.

After two years of treatment he was given the 'all-clear' in 2016.

Bryony added: “I think he felt relieved more than anything, it gave him a wake-up call to live in the present.

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“He never mentioned any side effects or feeling poorly, although I don’t feel like that’s something he would have shared - he wouldn’t have wanted us to worry.

Bryony before completing the marathon in LeedsBryony before completing the marathon in Leeds
Bryony before completing the marathon in Leeds

"He was always so concerned about everybody else and making sure they were alright."

Bryony and her two brothers, 30-year-old Luke and 27-year-old Jack, were so moved by the treatment and support Martyn received that the family pledged to campaign in support of Prostate Cancer UK.

After being given the all-clear, Martyn became a blood biker for Nottinghamshire Blood Bikes - delivering blood and other urgent medical supplies by motorcycle for the NHS.

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Tragically, Martyn died in 2017 after falling off a ladder and suffering a head injury after showing signs of a stroke.

"It’s frightening how much your life can be turned upside down in such a short time,” Bryony said.

“I rushed back from Leeds to Nottingham and packed one set of clothes as I thought he’d just be in hospital for the night and then he’d be okay - mainly because he’s always been okay, that was just Dad.”

Martyn encouraged Bryony and her brothers to stay active and although she hated running, she took up the challenge following her dad's tragic death.

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Bryony, who works as a supplier for Morrisons, ran the Great North Run in her dad's memory in 2018, followed by the hilly Yorkshire half marathon in 2019.

She said: “Prostate cancer is a cause so close to us now. I think a pivotal moment for me was at Dad’s funeral.

"It was so wonderfully overwhelming to see how many people were there.

"The Mountain Rescue did a guard of honour and the blood bikers did a ride out for him. I knew that I wanted to do something to carry on my Dad’s legacy and do whatever I could to help others."

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Bryony completed the marathon into Leeds, her greatest challenge yet, in four hours and 14 minutes.

She raised just short of £2,500 on a JustGiving page.

Bryony said: “I’ve effectively started training for the marathon four times now, and this took place the same week that Paris was supposed to happen.

"It was my first marathon, but it definitely won’t be my last.

"Friends and family came to support me throughout the whole run with banners and signs which really spurred me on.

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“Dad was with me every step of the way. On the training runs I just keep reminding myself exactly why I’m doing it and it keeps me motivated to keep going.”

Bryony is supporting Prostate Cancer UK’s upcoming programme of virtual running, cycling and walking events, which kicks off in 2021 with Run the Month – Marathon Edition.

The challenge will encourage rookie runners to pull on their trainers and run 26.2 miles in January for the charity.

More than 400,000 men are living with a prostate cancer diagnosis in the UK and it has now become the most commonly diagnosed cancer, with one man dying ever 45 minutes from the disease.

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Bryony has urged men at risk of prostate cancer to see their GP and visit Prostate Cancer UK's new online risk checker, designed to help men detect prostate issues at an early stage.

She added: “It’s so easy to think a symptom is ‘just something else’ and to brush it off and not investigate it further.

"Especially at the moment when GPs aren’t carrying out appointments as normal, things can easily be missed. The risk checker highlights what sort of things people should be looking for, so they can detect any underlying issues earlier themselves."

For more information on Prostate Cancer UK and the upcoming campaign visit prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved.

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