“He was the kindest, wisest, most selfless person I have ever met”: daughter pays tribute to late father after losing a third family member to cancer
Rainbow Murray, 41, from Loughton in Essex, will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon on 11th April 2021, in honour of her late father who passed away from prostate cancer in November 2020.
Tragically, this was not the first loved one that Rainbow had lost to cancer. In 2018 cancer waged a war on her family.
She explains: “In August it took the life of my darling mother, in September my amazing Dad was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, and in October my beloved brother was also diagnosed with cancer, dying just two devastating months later.”
In 2019 Rainbow took up running to help with the grief of losing her mum and brother. She has raised thousands of pounds for the hospices who cared for them. Rainbow had a drive to help fight against the vicious disease and as a result, she was inspired to do something for her dad whilst he was still alive.
She states, “I wanted to do anything that could buy my dad more time and give our family one chance to fight back against this awful disease. So, I decided to step-up my training and enter the 2020 Royal Parks Half Marathon.”
However, in January 2020 Rainbow suffered a severe concussion: “I had got to 10miles during training, but then fell and hit my head hard on the pavement. I was unable to train again for several months whilst recovering.”
By the time Rainbow had recovered, COVID-19 had put the nation in lockdown and cancer was also closing in on her dad. She explains, “By the time the organisers decided to postpone the race from October 2020 to April 2021, I had been made aware that my dad would be unlikely to live long enough to see me run the rescheduled race.”
Determined not to let the date rescheduling stop her completing the race for her dad, Rainbow decided to run a half marathon on the original date, running it a second time on the rescheduled day.
“I had to train really hard to make up for the months lost due to the injury, but I had my mind set on this goal, and ran through lockdowns, heatwaves, thunderstorms and all the rest.”
By October 2020, her father’s mobility had declined so sharply that he could no longer travel to watch Rainbow run. Last-minute, she changed the course and did laps of the area around his home instead, running past his front door four times, with the last time being the finishing line.
Rainbow explains, “The sight of him looking so proud and cheering me on put an extra wind in my sails and I completed the race in under 1 hour 45 minutes - which was a massive personal best for a 40-something working parent who came last in every race at school!
“Sadly, that was one of the last good days we had with my dad, and he passed away on 17th November. He was the kindest, wisest, most selfless person I have ever met, and I am completely heartbroken to have lost him. I fulfilled my dream of running the race in his lifetime, but not of helping to find a miracle cure for prostate cancer.”
Rainbow has raised over £4000 for Prostate Cancer UK to date. In total, she will have three unique racing experiences: the first race was held in her local area with her family on the original race day (October 2020), she is running the Royal Parks Half Marathon’s digital experience on her treadmill on 11th April 2021 and if that wasn’t enough, she will also be completing the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October 2021.
Running has been particularly therapeutic for helping Rainbow deal with bereavement, especially with the feelings of anger that are part of the grieving process.
Despite finding it hard to fit training in during the week, as she has additional childcare duties due to the pandemic whilst juggling her work as a Professor of Politics, training has been going well for Rainbow. The symptoms of her concussion have almost completely gone too.
She explains why Prostate Cancer UK was her chosen charity: “My dad survived 26 months past his diagnosis. Most of that survival time was thanks to hormone therapy treatments that weren’t available even a decade ago, and they didn’t just keep him alive, they gave him a decent quality of life too.”
Rainbow continues, “So I want to say thank you for those precious months where the treatment did work, and support their ongoing work to find new treatments. I treasured every single day with my Dad, and I want to help other men and their families have more time together and more success fighting this illness.”
To donate to Rainbow’s cause, go to: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-display/showROFundraiserPage?pageId=1192426