Posted: Tue 16th Apr 2024

Wife’s dying wish inspires Flintshire man to waddle 26 miles as a penguin to raise awareness of sarcoma

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales


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A Flintshire man whose wife died from a rare form of cancer is running the TCS London Marathon on 21 April dressed as a penguin to help raise funds for charity.

Michael Pendry, 44, of Ewloe, is running in memory of wife Kelly who died aged 42 just before Christmas last year.

Kelly loved penguins, and Michael had booked a day for her to be a penguin keeper at a zoo. Sadly, she passed away a week before the visit could take place.

Kelly was diagnosed with uterine leiomyosarcoma in 2021 following a lung biopsy – five years after her initial symptoms of heavy, prolonged periods and a swollen stomach had started. By 2021, her cancer was terminal.

She had been told she had benign fibroids and that a hysterectomy was needed, but the pandemic meant follow-up appointments were repeatedly postponed and the surgery never happened.

Last year, Michael ran 145 miles from his home to the office where he first met his wife in Bristol to help fund Kelly’s treatment.

Michael – who has two children, Sam, 11, and Isla, nine – has been training in his penguin costume around his home village. He will be raising funds for charity Sarcoma UK.

He said: “Kelly’s favourite animal was a penguin so I will running the marathon in a penguin outfit. I had booked a day for her at a zoo as a penguin keeper but she passed away a week before. My aim is to raise awareness of this kind of cancer, as most people, including many healthcare professionals, don’t know about it.”

Kerry Reeves-Kneip, Director of Communications and Fundraising at Sarcoma UK, said: “Michael Pendry’s extraordinary effort to run the London Marathon in a penguin costume is not only an incredibly creative way to honour his beloved wife Kelly’s memory, but also a powerful statement about the urgent need for greater sarcoma awareness.

“Kelly’s heartbreaking story shines a light on the devastating consequences of delayed sarcoma diagnosis. Her initial symptoms were tragically dismissed, allowing this aggressive cancer to advance unchecked for five years before the shocking truth was revealed. No family should have to endure such an ordeal.

“At Sarcoma UK, we are committed to ensuring stories like the Pendrys’ serve as a rallying cry for change. Increased public education about sarcoma’s diverse signs and symptoms, coupled with improved training for medical professionals, could mean the difference between life and death for thousands in the future. Michael’s penguin-suited marathon will raise vital funds for sarcoma research and support for families affected by sarcoma.”

Uterine leiomyosarcoma is a subtype of leiomyosarcoma. There are an average of 525 cases of leiomyosarcoma diagnosed every year in England. Symptoms of uterine leiomyosarcoma include vaginal bleeding post-menopause or between periods, and pain around the pelvis or stomach.

You can help support Michael’s fundraising for the marathon at https://www.justgiving.com/page/michael-pendry-1703247926923?newPage=true

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