Cancer has touched Lisa Smith’s family twice – it struck her twin sister and took away her beloved father.
So the 32-year-old is determined to raise as much money as she can for the cancer charity Macmillan by taking part in the Morrisons Great South Run.
When they were 18, Lisa’s twin sister Louisa was diagnosed with bone cancer and had to have a leg amputated above the knee.
After the traumatic operation, Louisa was given the all-clear and is now married with two daughters and a stepson.
Lisa hoped the family had put cancer behind them – but last year tragedy struck again when her father David Byrne, 62, was found to have lung cancer.
David, a lifelong Pompey fan who doted on his eight grandchildren, died just 18 months after he was diagnosed.
‘When my sister was diagnosed we felt that was the worst thing ever and there was nothing else that could be thrown at us,’ said Lisa, who lives with her partner Matthew Hore, her children Poppy and Zachary and stepchildren Paige and Charlie in Laburnum Grove, North End, Portsmouth.
‘Then we had this and it was so shocking because it all happened so quickly. Dad had never smoked and he hadn’t worked with asbestos or anything like that – he was just one of the unlucky ones.’
David had been married for 38 years to wife Pam and had worked for decades at Fasset at Langstone Technology Park, Havant.
Lisa said she and her family were overwhelmed by the support and good wishes from his colleagues during his illness and after he died.
They were also grateful for the support of Macmillan, whose nurses helped David in his final weeks as part of the Hospice at Home scheme run by the Rowans Hospice, Purbrook.
Lisa’s brother Russell is flying over from his home in Jersey to support Lisa at the Morrisons Great South Run.
Lisa said: ‘The idea of running it came up at my dad’s funeral – we wanted to thank Macmillan for the help he was given.
‘The nurses were just brilliant. They used to come and see us weekly and look after us.
‘My dad wasn’t the chattiest in talking about his feelings but they helped with that, and when he was in a lot of pain they made it easier.’
Lisa has never run a 10-mile race before and is training by getting up early and running around the streets of Portsmouth, spurred on by the memory of her father.
‘I haven’t run for a long time,’ she said. ‘I started when I was younger but life got in the way.
When I was younger I occasionally did go running with my dad, and he used to encourage me, saying come on, go faster.
‘Now when I am training I can hear him saying that in my head – so it’s like he’s still with me.’
To sponsor Lisa, visit her fundraising page at justgiving.com/owner-email/pleasesponsor/Lisa-Smith89
The Morrisons Great South Run will take place in Portsmouth on Sunday, October 25 and is the world’s leading 10-mile running event.
Enter at greatrun.org/south