King's College Hospital Charity

Remembering Mark Thornberry: Running the odd help beat cancer

Mark Thornberry was the epitome of determination. Despite being diagnosed with a form of liver cancer, being told in 2017 that he had just a few months to live, he was determined to use his passion to raise vital funds for liver cancer researh.
raised of £170,000 target
by 428 supporters
RCN 1165593

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Mark's story

"I have Stage IV hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) - or primary liver cancer, that has subsequently metastasised (spread) outside of the liver. My cancer was first diagnosed at the end of April 2017. Following a failed procedure, two months later I was told it was terminal and given 6 to 9 months to live. Following 4 other procedures, I underwent major surgery to remove more than 50% of my liver. A procedure that had hitherto not been possible to prescribe given the disposition of my cancer and the complication of having underlying cirrhosis. However, my tumour biology means that I am susceptible to recurrence, and at the beginning of May 2019 scans revealed secondary cancer outside of the liver. Since then, I have been on a couple of systemic drug treatments, that unfortunately have not stopped the growth of the disease. I have been told that my tumour burden is such that is inoperable. As I write this update I am hoping to meet the eligibility criteria for a very early stage Clinical Trial. After fighting the disease for the best part of three years, my future more than ever, feels very binary in the near term...but no matter what prognosis lies immediately ahead, I am firmly resolved to uphold what I said after my initial diagnosis - I refuse, absolutely refuse, to go quietly into the night. Im still jabbing away though the Clinicians have been unsure as to why. This is the nature of liver cancer in many, many cases. Ive used my passion for ultrarunning as a means to keep raising funds for research into HCC at King's College Hospital (KCH) in London - who had been caring for me as an outpatient for for my liver disease and who are now providing support and treatment for my cancer. I was fortunate to talk about it on Sky News in May, 2018.

This is just a start.

By way of background...KCH is a leading NHS hospital and home to the well renowned Institute of Liver Studies...and it is brilliant. Everyone I've met there, from porter to nursing support to Consultant have been off the chart with their dedication to patient care. They all know that liver cancer patients have very poor prognosis. Having spent some time as a patient on the wards there, you just sense how much more the team want to do to fix you completely or to get you more time. But in the majority of cases they can't...the treatment options for liver cancer patients are very limited, the research £s are just not there for less survivable cancers and I get the sense that NHS funding for critical illness is still massively triaged, let alone is it enough in relative terms. The big Pharma companies have their own agendas and preferred target markets. So, I'm going to do my bit to help KCH (Charity Fund), and thus am asking for your support. I've had tremendous support to date as I've taken on a number of races...ranging from running 100 miles continuously in the Sonoran desert in Arizona to 145 miles down the Grand Union Canal (from Birmingham to Paddington) to 100 miles in the forests of the Brabant in Belgium. However, I may not have run an ultramarathon for 15 months but my fellow runners have been outstanding in keeping the Charity front and centre. I find myself once again at the edge of that precipice...but am now even more determined to raise further funds to help beat this complex cancer.

May I thank you for any and all support, Mark"

King's College Hospital Charity update:

Mark sadly passed away in June 2020, but his amazing legacy will ensure that scientists at our world-renowned Institute of Liver Studies will gain a greater understanding of liver cancer and hopefully develop more targeted and effective treatments for future patients.

In September 2021, the Charity attended The Third Sector Awards and was shortlisted for the Unsung Hero award in honour of the late Mark Thornberry. It was an honour to support Mark throughout his incredible fundraising efforts and ensure that he was able to see the work start on the research he fought so hard to fund.

About the charity

We are dedicated to life-changing care at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. King’s provides specialist and local health services to over one million people in South-East London and Kent, as well as critical care. Our work makes innovation, as well as world class treatment, possible.

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