A head chef at a Blackburn hospital will be swimming the equivalent of the English Channel to raise money after her husband was diagnosed with cancer.

Kath Brennan said the lives of her and her husband Ged “changed overnight” when he was diagnosed with stage four mouth and throat cancer in 2021.

Now Ged has reached his one-year cancer-free mark, Kath is determined to raise funds and give back to MacMillan after the charity’s “tremendous” support to the pair.

Having never swum before, Kath, who works at Cygnet Fountains in Pleasington Close, will be challenging herself to swim 21 miles throughout June and July, the equivalent to the English Channel.

Ged and Kath BrennanGed and Kath Brennan (Image: Cygnet Health Care)

Ged’s symptoms started in 2019 with a small lump inside his mouth and earache, the pain of which would spread down to his throat.

Kath said: “It was the start of Covid and we tried to get an appointment with the doctor but they weren’t seeing anyone.

“He was prescribed antibiotics but after finishing the course, his symptoms and pain were no better.

"After another phone appointment, he was given more medication but then it progressed and he started getting tingling all down the side of his tongue.

“We had to wait until 2021, when Covid was over before he could get a further appointment.”

Ged following one of his surgeriesGed following one of his surgeries (Image: Cygnet Health Care)

After finally seeing a consultant at an ENT clinic, Ged was given the devastating news that it was cancer.

“When we first opened the door to the consultant’s room, it was full of all different nurses and doctors. 

“We were told that it was stage 4 mouth and tongue cancer. It was operable but they warned us it might cause complications and mean he wouldn’t be able to eat, drink, swallow or speak.

“We had to make a decision there and then if he wanted to have the operation or not. From that day on, our lives would be changed completely.”

Kath said the day Ged had his operation was “the longest day of my life”.

“The impact on our lives has been tremendous, he can just about speak but not properly,” she explained.

“People find it hard to understand him and people don't take the time to listen to what he is saying.

“I have to repeat everything he says, he can't speak on the phone, so he can only text, we have stopped socialising, he can't eat anymore and we have to live the rest of his life on a peg feed.

“His face his very disfigured due to losing his jawbone, because the radiotherapy was so powerful.

“We can't go out for a drink anymore either as Ged has an irreparable hole between his mouth and neck.

Ged is now cancer-freeGed is now cancer-free (Image: Cygnet Health Care)

“My husband is still the man I fell in love with. He still annoys me, still makes me laugh, but I am in awe of his strength and determination to carry on and not give up.”

Explaining why she is determined to raise funds for the charity, Kath explained: “Macmillan has helped us in so many ways from financial support through to emotional support.

“It helps just knowing that there is someone there to listen to your worries and concerns. They do so much not just for patients, but for families too.

“Since Ged was diagnosed, I have always put him first. I’ve been wanting to get into swimming for a while and kept seeing these charity events advertised.

"It was the virtual kick I needed, and a chance to give something back so that they can carry  on doing the wonderful work, help and support they are doing.”

You can donate to Kath's effort by visiting swimit.macmillan.org.uk and searching for Kathryn's Sink or Swim fundraiser.