DIAGNOSED with terminal cancer on May 1, Andrew Park spoke candidly of how that shocking “bolt out of the blue” left him two choices.

“You either give up and be miserable, or you can be positive,” the 73-year-old told the South Wales Argus a month later outside Newport’s Riverfront Theatre, before cycling off to help daughter Ellen complete a fundraising challenge which has raised thousands of pounds to support research into the disease - pancreatic cancer - he had been told was killing him.

“There’s always something to be got out of each situation, and a huge amount of good is coming out of this.”

South Wales Argus:

Mr Park (above), of Newport, died last Saturday, September 12. But his choice to be positive in the face of a bleak prognosis inspired family and friends to raise awareness of, and funds for research into, a disease that often presents late, and has a poor survival rate.

Inspiration became tribute on Sunday when, less than 24 hours after he died, Ellen Park (below) completed a marathon in and around Newport, again to support research into pancreatic cancer.

South Wales Argus:

“He was a remarkable man. He inspired so many, had time for everyone, touched so many lives,” said Ms Park, whose mum Mary and sister Sally were among a small and socially distanced team that supported her.

“He epitomised the word ‘gentleman’. He inspired us as a family to get involved in exercise, and was proud of passing on his love of sport to all of us. The world is a sadder place without his gentle spirit.”


Mrs Park, 73, described the family’s devastation at her husband’s diagnosis, after a spell of weight loss, stomach pains - which began last February - and coronavirus-interrupted tests and consultations.

A lawyer by profession, Mr Park - a keen sports fan and participant - was told he had three-six months to live.

South Wales Argus:

Mary and Andrew Park in happier times early this year

Ellen Park started a fundraising campaign, running a half marathon a day for a week in May. To date more than £9,000 has been raised for Pancreatic Cancer UK - see more details here.

Mary Park said that after her husband died, the family decided her daughter’s marathon the following day would go ahead as a tribute.

“It was a very special day, and if we hadn’t gone ahead, we would have just sat and cried," she said.

South Wales Argus:

From left: Mary Park and daughters Ellen and Sally, after the former's marathon last Sunday

"It was all set up. Ellen did so well, and we had support all the way. Chris Davies (lead ambassador for parkrun in Wales, who organised the event) did a marvellous job.

“Hopefully we can raise some more money, because this is a cruel disease.”

Pancreatic cancer comes armed with grim statistics including often late presentation of symptoms and thus late diagnosis, poor prognosis, difficulties around surgical treatment, and a tiny share of cancer research funding.

The UK's fifth biggest cancer killer, it receives less than two per cent of total cancer funding. The survival rate - two per cent after five years 40 years ago - has risen only slightly, to seven per cent.

Eighty per cent of patients die within a year of diagnosis, less than 10 per cent of patients can have surgery, and there is no early test.

Around 10,000 pancreatic cancer diagnoses are made every year in the UK, and there are 9,000 deaths a year.

For more information on pancreatic cancer, visit pancreaticcancer.org.uk or pcrf.org.uk

Mr Park’s family want to continue raising awareness of the disease and funding for research, and Ellen Park said fundraising will also be for St David's Hospice Care, where her father spent his final weeks.

"We are forever in debt to the dedication of the staff at St David's. The work they do, the care they provide, is invaluable," she said.

Mary Park said hospice staff had been "absolutely wonderful, every single one of them.

"He could not have had better care anywhere."