Dad gearing up for challenge of his life

Andy Millward with a selection of the medication he has to take every day. Picture by FRANK REID
Andy Millward with a selection of the medication he has to take every day. Picture by FRANK REID

A DETERMINED dad battling a life-limiting lung disease is set to defy the odds when he takes part in a gruelling half-marathon.

Andrew Millward, from Hartlepool, faces a daily battle against cystic fibrosis (CF) for which there is no cure.

He has almost reached the average life expectancy for sufferers of 41.

Andrew has to take 40 tablets a day and use a nebuliser breathing mask three times a day to keep the disease under control.

Despite the debilitating condition, he is gearing up for the biggest challenge of his life when he takes part in Sunday’s Great North Run.

Andrew will celebrate his 41st birthday three days after the run.

But he said he is determined to fight the condition to be there for his wife Rachel, 36, and their seven-year-old son Benjy.

Andrew, 40, said: “It is a daily regime of medication, tablets, nebulisers and inhalers.

“I have always wanted to do the Great North Run but have never felt fit enough but I’m at the stage where I feel quite fit and healthy and am able to take on this challenge.

“I’m under no illusions. I have never ran this far in my life.

“I’m apprehensive and excited. I can’t wait to start.

“I think once I cross the finishing line it will be sheer relief that it’s over and I have done it.”

Andrew was born with cystic fibrosis which is caused by a single defective gene and sees sufferers’ lungs and digestive systems become clogged with thick sticky mucus.

That can lead to chronic infections, inflammation in the lungs and difficulty digesting food.

Andrew told how his positive outlook and efforts to stay fit are helping him fight the condition.

He said: “I’m tackling it head on and giving it a damn good fight.

“It is a progressive disease. It’s not going to get easier, it gets worse.

“I’ve always known about the average life expectancy. I’m right on it now.

“But I see no reason, as long as I keep myself fit and healthy, why I can’t live into my 70s or 80s.

“Especially having a family, which is something people with CF wouldn’t have had years ago, I want to be there when my son is growing up.

“I want to be able to run round the park and play football with him. It’s an added incentive.”

Andrew, who lives with his family in the Bishop Cuthbert area of Hartlepool and works as a cashier for Barclays bank in Peterlee, will do the run on Tyneside with his brother Neil, who lives in Stockton.

He will also be joined by three members of the teaching staff from Throston Primary School where Benjy goes and Andrew is also a parent governor.

Between them they hope to raise over £1,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust which will fund medical research into the condition and providing support for sufferers and their families.

Andrew and the team can be sponsored at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/throstonprimary