A grieving daughter who lost her father to skin cancer has issued a heartfelt warning about the danger of sun overexposure and has urged people to protect themselves.
Her beloved dad, Kenneth Thornton, died on May 19 – just hours after his young god-daughter and her mum had taken part in the Alnwick Race for Life to raise funds for Cancer Research on his behalf.
Kym Thornton, 22, from Hadston, didn’t think her father, better known as Kendo, would lose his battle so soon, but says it was as though he held out until after they had completed the run for him.
Kendo, from Amble, was 65, and also had a 15-year-old son, Callum.
Kym says she never expected him to die so young.
And she believes that her father’s over-exposure to the sun earlier in life was a contributing factor to his skin cancer fight.
He had battled the same condition two years ago before it returned in August.
“I really want to raise awareness about this,” said Kym.
“When dad was younger he was a landscape gardener and he worked with his top off and he didn’t wear cream.
“When we went on holiday he used to wear oil. He was damaging his skin.
“People need to realise that even in this country, you need to stay protected.
“Even just half-an-hour in the sun can have an effect, especially people with fair skin.
“Some people still don’t realise the dangers.
“Every time I see someone in the sun I say to them ‘have you got cream on?’.”
Kendo passed away at home with his family around him – just as he had wanted.
Earlier that day, god-daughter Ava and mum Bev had tackled the fund-raiser for him.
The event was organised by cancer patient Sharon Reid.
Little Ava was dressed as a fairy and had a sign saying she was doing the run for her god-father Kendo.
Kym said: “It just shows you how fragile life is.
“They were doing it to raise money on behalf of my dad but they didn’t think he would pass away when he did.
“He thought it was fantastic that Bev was taking Ava to do it.
“He loved Ava to bits.
“It was as though he held out while they were running for him.”
In January Kym signed up for this year’s Great North Run to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support.
“I didn’t think he would be gone before I had done the run,” she said.
Kendo had battled cancer before.
About five years ago he had fought off thyroid cancer.
Two years ago he had to face the news that he had skin cancer, but later received the all clear.
But in August, the cancer returned, and he was told that it was terminal. He remained strong during his fight.
Kym said: “He faced it head on and he remained positive throughout.
“He was courageous and said that he wasn’t scared that he was going to die.”
The family enjoyed a special Christmas last year.
Kendo was divorced from Kath, 52, but the pair remained close friends and she hosted the festive get-together.
Kym said: “We thought it might be his last Christmas so we wanted to make it a good one.”
Kendo was a Chelsea football fan and enjoyed spending time at his allotment and playing dominoes.
Kym added: “He was the best dad in the world. I can’t believe that he has gone. He was a man’s man, everyone knew him.”
His funeral was last Thursday at Blyth.