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article imageMan taking part in Lighthouse Challenge to honour wife's memory Special

By Lynn Curwin     May 18, 2011 in Health
Rayleigh - Graham and Liz Biner's plans to work together to raise money for charity ended when cancer took her life, but today Graham is training for a challenge he will tackle in her memory.
During a one-week period in the autumn of 2008 Graham was told he had kidney cancer and Liz learned she had breast cancer. He had a kidney removed, while Liz had chemotherapy, a mastectomy, and radiotherapy.
While going through treatment she planned their wedding, and in October 2009, they were married in Cairns, Australia. They were joined by their son Wilfred, who will be three in June, as well as Liz’s three older children, Lili, 18, Annabelle, 17, and William, 12.
Sadly, Liz's cancer spread to her brain. In August 2010 she went to stay at Fair Havens Hospice, in Westcliff.
"As the illness that was affecting Liz worsened it became more and more difficult to maintain a comfortable environment for her at home," explained Graham.
"We were scared to go to the hospice as we had the fear that you went there to die. This wasn't the case, you go there to live and live as full a life as you are able under the circumstances. Whereas previously in the hospital Liz was treated as a dying person, at Fair Havens Hospice she was treated as a living person and she lived as much as she could for as long as she could."
Graham Biner and his family.
Graham Biner and his family.
Graham Biner
He said that having the hospice care for Liz took pressure off of himself and the children and allowed them to have a quality family time with Liz for the last three weeks of her life.
"The staff at Fair Havens offered our family all the love and care you could of hoped for in the most difficult time we have had to deal with. They ask for nothing in return, it runs totally on donations. Its an amazing concept that works brilliantly and fills the gap that our government has left."
Graham said that Liz wanted to do something to raise funds for the hospice, as it relies on donations.
"As Liz had been in a wheelchair for the previous four months we spoke about wheelchair parachute jumps or doing a marathon with me pushing her. Sadly Liz never got the opportunity to fulfill her wish, which left me with the task of fulfilling the wish for her."
Graham and Liz Biner with Wilfred.
Graham and Liz Biner with Wilfred.
Graham Biner
Liz died on September 11, 2010 and Graham wanted to honour her memory.
"I needed something that would be achievable but also very challenging and give people an interest in wanting to sponsor me," he said. "Whilst trawling the Internet for inspiration I came across an ultra marathon that involved 30 miles of running up and down hills, and thought, 'What kind of an idiot would do something like that?' It then dawned on me that this was the kind of thing I had to do to get people interested in sponsoring me. I felt I needed a significant point to start and finish from. Our last family holiday together was in Scotland so I thought that it would be nice to honour Liz's wishes there."
He decided it would be appropriate to run from Cape Wrath, the most north-westerly point of the UK mainland, to Duncansby Head, the most north-easterly point. He considers it significant that the points are marked by lighthouses, which provide guidance and protection, the way the hospice had for them. When he realised there were three other lighthouses in between, he decided to make stops at them and call the event Liz's Lighthouse Challenge.
Graham and Liz Biner
Graham and Liz Biner
Graham Biner
Since then he has discovered that Fair Havens Hospice used to have a lighthouse on their logo.
Graham, who is 38, started running in July 2009 to regain my fitness after his operation (radical nephrectomy), which took place in December 2008. He completed a half marathon in December 2009 to mark the anniversary of his operation and prove to himself that he was fit. After that he didn't run again until the first of this year, when he began training for Liz's Lighthouse Challenge.
"I don't particularly enjoy running long distances, but I find it challenging and satisfying when I reach my targets," he explained.
He is now training two to three hours, five times a week, and his parents look after Wilfred during this time.
He feels he will be able to complete the 122 mile run in five days. His step-son, William, hopes to complete a marathon distance (26.2 miles) by joining him part of the time.
"I have a support team of seven made up from friends and family, that are all covering their own expenses to come and help and support me over the five days -one of which is a paramedic," he said.
He will carry Liz's ashes along with him, in a runner's backpack, during the challenge, which will begin on September 11.
Anyone interested in sponsoring Graham can do so on his JustGiving page.
More information on Havens Hospices can be found on their website.
Graham Biner  with William and Wilfred.
Graham Biner, with William and Wilfred.
Graham Biner
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