Taking 28 for the Team
When Kate asked me to write a blog about my participation in the Teenage Cancer Trust’s More Than A Marathon, I wasn’t sure I wanted to. It was a very personal journey for me, as was my battle against oesophageal cancer last year, but as I did it in the name of Team TWI, I think it is only right that I share it with you.
Having cancer is no picnic (quite literally for me as I was nil by mouth and tube fed for several months during treatment). The uncertainty, the fear, the pain and the horrible side-effects of the treatment that will hopefully save your life are difficult to describe. To have all that, along with the angst that goes hand in hand with being a teenager, to be on the brink of your wonderful, exciting future and be looking death in the eye, I cannot imagine. As a parent myself, the thought of supporting your teenage son and daughter through cancer, takes me on a path I do not wish to travel down.
The Teenage Cancer Trust creates world-class cancer services for young people in the UK, providing life-changing care and support so young people don’t have to face cancer alone. When you take into account the statistics of around seven young people aged between 13 and 24 being diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK, you start to get a hold on the mammoth task TCT faces to ensure every one of them has access to expert treatment and support from the moment they hear the word cancer.
So that’s why I pushed myself way beyond my comfort zone in April. The how? By taking part in More Than A Marathon, which asks participants to cover 28 miles over the course of 28 days to raise money for TCT. You can run, walk, swim, crawl, dance, or hop those miles but as I walk an average of five miles with my dog every day, I didn’t feel justified asking people to sponsor me unless I was pushing myself, so I vowed to run every one of the 28 miles. I’m not a natural runner, nor am I an elegant one, hence the treadmill or very early morning runs with the dog.
I am still recovering from my life-saving surgery last summer, but I had a cunning plan to motivate myself to keep going when I wanted to give up. Of those 28 miles, at least seven were run concentrating hard on positive thoughts for everyone battling cancer right now; those I know personally and those who remain anonymous to me but no less important. Three were run questioning why I was the only one in the TWI team daft enough to be doing this challenge, around two were run wondering whether my feet were indeed soggy enough for this to be classed as triathlon training, and the rest were run with my extremely motivational but completely imaginary running buddy, Tom Hardy!
I’m really proud that I completed the challenge, and delighted to have raised nearly £500 for TCT, but I am also somewhat perturbed that in a moment of weakness I have agreed to run a 5K race with my daughter later this year. Let’s hope Tom is free!!