The heartbroken widow of a much-loved father has been left overwhelmed by support as 47 people team up to take part in a charity fundraiser.
Helen Mackerill’s world came crashing down when her husband Paul was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
The 52-year-old lost his four-year battle with cancer just two days before the couple’s 20th wedding anniversary on August 30 last year.
Since then, Helen, from Rydal Gardens, South Shields, along with the couple’s two children Emily, 15 and Sophie, nine have been raising money for the two charities - St Clare’s Hospice and Macmillan - that helped care for Paul following his diagnosis.
On Sunday, his family is among a team of 47 joining forces to create Team Mac who will take part in the Rainbow Dash organised by St Clare’s Hospice.
“I just feel extremely proud that we have 47 members of Team Mac taking part in the Rainbow Dash and raising money for St Clare’s,” said Helen.
I don’t hink people realise how much the hospice doesHelen Mackerill
“I don’t think people realise just how much the hospice does for people, it’s not just a place where people go to die. The hospice is much more than that, it’s where Paul went for pain management.”
Mr Mackerill, who had his own company PM Joinery Services and worked on bars across South Tyneside, was first diagnosed with melanoma - skin cancer - in 2011 after a mole on his chest became cancerous.
It was removed in the December of that year but, by the following September, it was discovered the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. He underwent another operation and was continually monitored.
In January last year he became ill again, this time losing his hearing. It had been thought he was suffering from labyrinthitis - an inner ear infection which resulted in him losing his hearing.
Undefeated he turned to communicating through pen and paper. His condition worsened and after going to the hospital it was discovered he had brain tumours including growths in his ears.
He was put on a chemotherapy drug trial which gave him some hearing back.
Over time his health deteriorated where he was eventually cared for at St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow where he eventually lost his cancer battle.
Helen added: “I’m hoping everyone has a great time on Sunday but I have also encouraged them to wear factor 50 to protect themselves from the sun.
“I really can’t stress how important it is for people to take sun safety into consideration as well as having any moles they believe could be cancerous checked out.”
Anyone who would like to make a donation to the team’s efforts as part of a fundraising drive to hit £10,000 for the hospice visit www.justgiving.com/Helen-Mackerill1/