At the age of 81, you probably wouldn’t expect grandfather Mike Fogg to be jumping out of an aeroplane.
But that is exactly what this retired naval Chief Petty Officer is about to do.
Two years ago his beloved wife of 43 years, Patricia, died following a gruelling battle against the rare cancer myeloma.
That’s why Mike has chosen such a wild way to raise awareness of it – by doing a sky dive.
Mike and Patricia met when he was in the Royal Navy and she was a Wren.
He says: ‘I had a very good female friend who was drafted to HMS Mercury in Horndean.
It took a terrible toll on her. Nothing about this disease is nice, I’m afraid. ‘But she coped in the only way she knew how – by fighting the damn thingMike Fogg
‘She invited me to a cocktail party up there and, little did I know then, it was a plot to introduce me to my future wife.
‘Luckily, my first impression of Pat was that she was hot bit of stuff.
‘Being a Wren, she threw a very strong rope around me and didn’t let go. She was bubbly and determined and very strong.
‘Which is what helped her a great deal through the terrible trauma of this horrible disease. It was awful.’
Myeloma is a cruel disease which attacks bone marrow in multiple parts of the body at once.
The couple first realised something was wrong when they went on holiday to Majorca with friends in 2008.
Mike, of Pimpernel Close, Locks Heath, says: ‘When we got there she was quite moody and tired, which was so unlike her.
‘We decided to go up a cliff to get a nice view of the sea and she was really struggling.
‘We called out to her “come on lazy bones” and things like that.
‘But, in fact, it was the onset of myeloma.
‘And it was a very, very tough period from then until the time she passed away.’
In her last five years Patricia suffered constant bouts of serious illness including pneumonia, severe shingles, sight loss, listeria meningitis, colds and renal failure.
Mike says: ‘The second time she had pneumonia I was called to the hospital to be told she probably would not last until the morning.
‘But she was a tough old bird and she came back and everything was all right the next day.
‘Then she had shingles and it was really awful.
‘She had them all down the side of her body.
‘Pat had anaemia, diabetes, respiratory problems, hyper-tension and her hair was thinning.
‘Myeloma can be controlled, but it cannot be cured.
‘It is the most little-known cancer but it’s one of the most dangerous.
‘It likes to eat away at the bones and the marrow.’
Patricia had to have her thigh bone removed and replaced with a metal pin.
Mike says: ‘It took a terrible toll on her. Nothing about this disease is nice, I’m afraid.
‘But she coped in the only way she knew how – by fighting the damn thing. She was as tough as they come. I miss her very much.’
Mike says the staff at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, especially Dr Tania Cranfield and her team, ‘looked after Pat in a most compassionate and professional manner.’ But she died on October 31, 2013, aged 69.
The couple’s daughter Carole, and granddaughter Faith, 11, rallied round. Mike almost bursts with pride when he talks about them.
Carole, 42, an Oxford graduate, is an epidemiologist who spent many years researching diseases in Africa.
Faith, 11, is the apple of her grandfather’s eye and ‘can do no wrong’ as far as he is concerned.
‘We had to draw together, and we did, along with some very loyal friends’, says Mike.
‘You certainly discover who your friends are when something like that happens.
‘We had several very loyal friends who would go and visit her.’
They, along with Carole and Faith, think he is mad to do a sky dive at his age, but that will not stop him.
His god-daughter’s father-in-law also died of the disease.
Mike will make the jump, at Hinton Airfield, near Silverstone, on September 5. He has been generously sponsored by businesses in Locksheath village centre who have all donated money.
Thanks to Mike’s letter-writing, Myeloma UK is the charity of the month in the community scheme at Waitrose in the village.
Mike adds: ‘I’m so grateful to everyone who has donated and sponsored me.
‘It was my friend Paul Tarling’s idea to remember his father.
‘When he told me I said, “Oh, right. I’ll join you. We can do this together”.
‘I’ve done abseiling and gliding. I’ve been known to be adventurous in the past.
‘To say I’m not nervous is the truth. To say I won’t be on the day would be a lie.
‘Of course I’m going to be nervous when I’m 10,000ft in the air strapped on to somebody I hope is going to be looking after me. Pat would think I’m crazy. Just as everybody else does.’
To sponsor Mike go to justgiving.com/michael-fogg2.
Myeloma, which is also known as multiple myeloma, is a cancer arising from plasma cells, a type of white blood cell which is made in the bone marrow.
Bone marrow is the spongy material found in the centre of the larger bones in the body. The bone marrow is where all blood cells are made.
Plasma cells form part of the immune system. Normal plasma cells produce antibodies, also called immunoglobulins, to help fight infection.
In myeloma, these plasma cells become abnormal, multiply uncontrollably and release only one type of antibody, paraprotein, which has no useful function. It is often through the measurement of this paraprotein that myeloma is diagnosed and monitored.
Unlike many cancers, myeloma does not exist as a lump or tumour. Most of the medical problems related to myeloma are caused by the build-up of the abnormal plasma cells in the bone marrow and the presence of the paraprotein in the blood or in the urine.
Myeloma affects multiple places in the body – the bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, the rib cage, long bones of the arms and legs and the areas around the shoulders and hips.
Myeloma is a relapsing-remitting cancer. This means there are periods when the myeloma is causing symptoms and needs to be treated, followed by periods of remission where the myeloma does not cause symptoms and does not require treatment.
Go to myeloma.org.uk.