As a family they suffered cancer and depression, but now their journey of survival has taken them on a cash raising challenge to Africa.
Married for 34 years, businessman Philip and wife Charlotte Straker endured cancer together.
It hit their family hard, and then their interior designer daughter Emma, 33, suffered depression as she supported her parents through their ordeals.
Now, as the Hexham pair remain in remission, they have taken part in one of the most gruelling half marathons in the world, along with daughters Mary, 26, nicknamed “Mouse”, and Sarah, 29, as well as her partner Andrew Turnbull, 31, Emma’s husband James Middleton, 34, and family friend Nick Van Gruisen, 58.
The Safaricom Race is one of the fifth toughest marathons in the world with only 1,200 entrants who ran on dirt tracks and past buffalo, zebra and antelope.
James said: “It was the most ultimate experience of my life. We ran in 30 degree temperatures, real searing heat on dirt tracks at 5,500ft.
“Helicopters hovered overhead to keep away the wild animals.
“It was tough, but we got through it and raised £20,000.”
The superfit running team took almost two years to prepare for their task in Kenya.
Emma had also agreed to the challenge but pulled out after falling pregnant with twins due to be born in October.
Property consultant James, of Matfen, Northumberland, who also has two-an-a-half-year-old daughter Isabelle, added : “My father-in-law first suffered kidney cancer and then as he was pulling through my mother-in-law was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
“Emma then suffered depression and it was a terrible time. But we have come through it and are now wanting to give something back. We are raising ï¿½30,000 to split between African charity Tusk Trust and Tyneside Mind for mental health.
“Mind is wanting to set up a centre in Tynedale, planned for the Hexham area, and our funds will go towards that.
“We are nearly there and now we are pushing to raise the final ï¿½10,000.”
Charlotte added: “We are extremely fortunate in the North East to have such fantastic facilities and care to help treat this ghastly disease, cancer.
“Sadly in Kenya this is not the case, even the smallest form of illness and injury are hard to treat due to lack of funding and knowledge.
“We would like to help Tusk Trust by donating monies into their healthcare, education and wildlife programme.
“So far the Safaricom marathon monies have helped build three new clinics with equipment and two new schools as well providing extra protection and care for their wildlife programme.
“Emma has suffered from depression, an illness from which one in 10 people suffer and this illness is still very much unspoken about. All too often, depression sufferers battle issues within themselves and subsequently don’t receive the help and support they so badly require.
“Tyneside Mind is an organisation which helps people with all sorts of mental health problems, it is financed only by donations and grants and it only services Gateshead and South Tyneside. Mind have seen a 40% increase in people using their service in the past two years but sadly they have no means to expand.
“As a family we are very keen to help raise money to enable Tyneside Mind to start a group in Northumberland, which will hopefully become a blueprint for further expansion. Anything you can donate will be a huge help towards establishing real support in the North for mental health.”
Anyone wanting to donate to Tusk Trust visit uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/straker or for Tyneside Mind send cheques payable to Tyneside Mind to Charlotte Straker at High Warden, Hexham, NE46 45R.