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Charity News Swansea West Wales

Swansea man running London Marathon for best friend with incurable cancer

Hannah and Zak

ZAK BIRD, 28, who works for South Wales Police as a PCSO, has been inspired to take on the London Marathon by his inspirational best friend Hannah, who was diagnosed at the age of 28 with Mesothelioma, a rare and incurable lung cancer.

He explains that Hannah a keen runner, started losing weight and struggled to run her average distances without becoming breathless.

They discovered she had 4 litres of fluid in her right lung. After some tests, she was admitted for a biopsy and was diagnosed with Mesothelioma in May 2023. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer, with around 100 new cases diagnosed each year in Wales.

Zak describes Hannah as ‘inspirational’ as she continues to travel and live her life to the full despite undertaking immunotherapy and chemotherapy at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.

Hannah, who has just celebrated her 29th birthday, had a positive scan in February after finishing chemotherapy which has allowed her to have a break off treatment for a few months.

Zak from Clydach in Swansea said, “Hannah and her husband Chris are my best friends; I was best man at their wedding so to say Hannah’s cancer diagnosis was a shock is an understatement. Most people would give up, but she’s remained positive and ready to take this massive challenge head on.

Zak left pictured with Chris and Hannah

“Hannah’s cancer is aggressive and incurable, but she hasn’t let it stop her from living her life. The year she got diagnosed with a rare lung cancer, she got married and applied for a promotion in work. We’ve been blown away by her determination to beat the odds.

“I’m running the London Marathon for Asthma + Lung UK, to help raise awareness of Mesothelioma. No one has heard of it and research is key to finding new treatments. This is my first ever London Marathon and we’re all travelling to London, including Hannah and her husband, Chris. I’m excited to take this amazing challenge on and make some great memories with them all.

“I really appreciate everyone’s donations; we have had some great events and raffle prizes including tickets to In It Together Festival and a Gareth Bale football jersey. If you would like to donate, please visit my JustGiving page, every penny counts.

Samantha Walker, Director of Research and Innovation at Asthma + Lung UK added, “Hannah is one of 2700 people in the UK diagnosed every year with mesothelioma.2 Most people are over 80 when they are diagnosed, so her case is very rare. Mesothelioma damages the linings of the lungs which over time makes it harder and harder for people to breathe.

“We really appreciate our fundraisers like Zak, who not only raise money to help fund research into new treatments but also raise public awareness of lung conditions too. Funding lung health research has never been a priority, with just 2% of public health funding going towards it.

“Progress towards developing new treatments for the 12 million people affected by lung conditions has stood still for decades. We urgently need more funding into research and innovation to help save lives and find new break-through treatments for people like Hannah so they can live a long and happy life.”

You can show your support to Zak by donating to his JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ZaksMarathon2023