A retired jockey is in training to run a half-marathon to raise money for his nine-year-old godson who is undergoing treatment for leukaemia.
Derek McGaffin, 38, who works for Newmarket trainer Charlie Appleby, is taking on the challenge to help provide special treats for Jacob Krutke to help keep his spirits up and provide something for him to look forward to during his lengthy recovery from a bone marrow transplant last year.
Jacob, who lives with parents Lorna and Craig and 14-year-old sister Katie in Lacey’s Lane, Exning, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in April, 2014. After a year’s intensive chemotherapy, the cancer went into remission but, despite continuing treatment, in March last year Jacob suffered a relapse.
After total body radiation treatment, described by his mother as ‘brutal’ to prepare him for the transplant, Jacob underwent the procedure at a hospital in Bristol in September.
“Basically he has been ill for three years and he is still having on-going issues connected with the transplant,” said Lorna.
“It is very, very slow progress and he gets very down. We are still having frequent visits to Addenbrooke’s which is like a second home to him and he still has to take so much medication – 10 syringes of medicine in the mornings, eight in the evenings and more in-between.”
When Derek and his wife Helen, who live at Studlands Park, came up with the idea of the half-marathon and the fundraising, Lorna admits to a few doubts.
“It’s hard to accept that you might need help. But I soon realised that it’s all about Jacob and what he needs.
“If we can do something really special for him, and give him something to look forward to when he starts to feel better, hopefully it will give him a real boost. He says that what he would like to do most is to go to London to see The Lion King.”
“Jacob has been ill for so long that it is easy for us to think he has been forgotten but when we see that people have been donating we know that he has not – and that’s almost more important to us than the money.
Meanwhile Derek, who retired from race riding in 2007, is putting in about 25 miles a week in preparation for the Cambridge half-marathon on March 5.
“He’s really excited about it,” said wife Helen. “We are both so pleased that we can do something for Jacob.”