I’ve not updated my blog in a long, long time. After my 6th marathon in Berlin I was emotionally drained and needed a break. One week became two and suddenly a month had past and I hadn’t written anything. With the passage of time came pressure and it became more difficult to write. Even still 6 months is too long in anyone’s book. Such a lot has happened in that time and I’ll write more about some of the things we’ve been doing soon, but wanted to say that we had excellent scan results a few weeks ago and my cancer is still stable and hasn’t spread or grown. Such a relief! I’ve not stopped running and since Berlin I’ve run another 5 marathons, including 47 miles on 20th December. A proud achievement and I’ll write about that soon as well.
One exciting thing we did recently was attend Beating Bowel Cancer’s Parliamentary Reception a few weeks ago. The afternoon was wonderful. It was amazing to go to the House of Commons, especially because we’d never been there before. In fact Louise and I chuckled when we realised the last time we were in London together was at an anti-war protest many years ago. Being at the heart of British politics was a little surreal I guess, but I suppose it’s proof that we’ve both matured. These days we focus our energies on a different fight, one closer to home, against cancer. Parliament is incredible, the grounds and buildings are beautiful, but the best part of the afternoon wasn’t the surroundings or even or the politicians. I only met one. He talked about himself the whole time and wasn’t the least bit interested in my fund raising efforts, marathon running alongside chemo or the fact that I wouldn’t be alive without the Cancer Drugs Fund his government introduced. No, we were too busy enjoying the loveliest bit of the afternoon, meeting other cancer patients and their relatives and wonderful Beating Bowel Cancer staff.
Louise and I have been in touch with lots of people at Beating Bowel Cancer over the last year or so and built up lots of relationships, many with people we’ve never met, so putting faces to names and having the opportunity to thank people in person for their support was really great. Sometimes because of chemo brain (it’s a real thing honest) I’ve missed emails, so I also needed to thank them for their patience and perseverance too! Louise and I also met fellow patients and relatives we’ve chatted to many times on social media, people whose kindness and encouragement has inspired us.
There were others I’d not talked to much before, people like Nicky Hyde who lost her husband to bowel cancer. She’s such a lovely woman and we can’t wait to see her again. Hearing how hard she works raising money and promoting awareness of bowel cancer was really inspiring. She has achieved so much despite her grief, but she is motivated by her loss to ensure that others don’t go through the same thing. It’s the same sort of thing that powers us forward too. Even if we only manage to educate a single person about bowel cancer symptoms that’s one family we may have saved from having to endure the things our family and others have had to go through.
Louise and I are very motivated, but it’s great to have a boost from time to time and that was just what happened at the parliamentary reception. It was a powerful reaffirmation of the hard work we have put in over the last year. The fund raising and the work we’ve done to promote awareness of bowel cancer has been very rewarding, but going out running in training and races can be very time consuming and I’ve spent many hours away from my family. There have been times when I’ve really wondered if I’m doing the right thing. I’m living with terminal cancer, so I obviously have concerns about my health, which could fail at any time. I might be well at the moment and capable of some pretty decent feats of endurance, but my cancer is incurable, so unless a miracle occurs and new drugs are developed that totally rid me of this awful disease it will kill me, as it has so many others. It’s a bit of a worry that I’ve already exceeded the expectations my Oncology team had for the length of time my current treatment would work (I’m an anomaly apparently) and I wonder from time to time whether running and fund raising is the best use of my time.
So it’s really great to remember that we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. No one would choose to have cancer, but given that I do, it’s great to be part of the cancer community. Louise and I have discovered that there’s a lot of support out there, both online through social media and physically at our treatment centre. All of the charities we’ve been involved with are impressive organisations, both in terms of the way that they support patients and the way they support their fundraisers. But Beating Bowel Cancer feels like family. A large part of that is the CEO Mark Flanagan. Time and again he’s taken time out of his day to send me tweets and Facebook messages. It’s really special getting support from the head of the charity, but all the staff are like that. It gives us plenty of encouragement to have this kind of support from a charity with national profile. They are national, but it doesn’t feel like they’re too big to care. They are at the forefront of the fight against bowel cancer and offer great support to patients and their families, but they’re also really great at backing their fundraisers. They’ve got a great social media presence and small things like sending encouraging tweets when I’m on the way to race or after a radio or TV interview make all the difference. I don’t run or fundraise for praise, but knowing that we have backing from a nurturing and supportive charity gives me a real boost.
It was an invigorating and galvanising day. The people we talked to were amazing, dedicated people whose determination to wipe out bowel cancer was striking. What always amazes me about people that have been touched by cancer, patients and their families, is that instead of shying away from the thing that caused them so much pain they dig in and fight back. It’s a very human struggle and there’s a great deal of sadness and loss, but it’s tempered by the courage and determination people like Nicky display in the work they do. The fight against cancer inspires brave people like her to do their bit to raise money or awareness. They work tirelessly to make the world a better place, one where more patients live longer and survive cancer.
It’s a privilege to be part of the same cause and I hope that Louise and I are able to continue to make our contribution and that my health continues to hold, so that I might raise more funds to help charities like Beating Bowel Cancer spread the message and reduce cancer deaths.