One sleep till Windermere…

I really can’t wait. By this time tomorrow I’ll be running round Lake Windermere in what will no doubt be the toughest race of my life. The Brathay Windermere Marathon is a hard course. There’s more than 600 feet of elevation gain during the race and it’s going to be hot, very hot (at least for me). Recently, I’ve developed an enjoyment of hill running and love nothing more than to (at least attempt to) sprint up them. I’ve even tackled Great Hill at White Coppice a couple of times with Louise and a friend of ours. It’s 640 feet of elevation in two miles of distance. It’s sheer elevation, but also sheer exhilaration. Running on the side of that hill has given me a great sense of freedom, feeling totally unfettered by cancer or chemo. Getting up that monster should should prepare me for Sunday, but Windermere also has fantastic undulation, not to mention the simple fact that it’s 26.2 miles.

Being battered in the park by middle daughter Isobel is the perfect release from training.

Being battered in the park by middle daughter Isobel is the perfect release from training.

Just as last time my preparation for this marathon has been interrupted by injury. Grace, my sister, asked me how much training I’d managed to get in after recovering from my infected blister. I looked at the calendar and was really surprised that I’d only trained for 2 weeks for this marathon. I guess I’d just slotted back into things and had forgotten about my layoff. Probably the best way to be really. I’m not trying to talk myself out of running in Windermere far from it. I am awed by the challenge, but not deterred. I’m really excited.

Louise and I at the Blackpool 10k finish line

Louise and I at the Blackpool 10k finish line last Sunday. Great training with one week to go until Marathon #2

This weekend is also the weekend of the Great Manchester 10k. I was a little saddened to already be occupied running a Marathon. Mummy’s Star is a charity set up by my good mate and genuine inspiration Pete. It’s is the only charity in the UK that caters for pregnant women that have cancer, or have been diagnosed soon after giving birth. They have runners taking part in the Great Manchester Run and I would really like to have been one of them.

Bumped into Steve, one of the Mummy's Star runners at the Blackpool 10k. Such a nice guy!

Bumped into Steve, one of the Mummy’s Star runners at the Blackpool 10k. Such a nice guy!

It is also the weekend of Rugby League’s Magic Weekend. Last year I was given free tickets to go and a friend and I had a wonderful time. On our journey to the Etihad I saw runners taking on the 2013 Great Manchester 10k. I felt sad that I wasn’t able to run and chided myself for not pushing myself to do more. I remember seeing those runners and their families and thought ‘I can do that’. Now only a year later I’m on the cusp of my second marathon and will be running at least a further four by the end of the year (I say at least, because I’ve really caught the bug). In the last year I feel like I’ve undergone a bit of a transformation. I’ve achieved a lot and learned to live with my cancer and treatment a little better. I’m very happy. I’ve got my beautiful wife and daughters to thank for that.

Running has helped me be more active and participate more fully in family life, like putting the girls to bed.

Running has helped me be more active and participate more fully in family life, like putting the girls to bed.

I’m really grateful to our Oncologist who’s been a tremendous support. I’m also really grateful to Beating Bowel Cancer who believed in me and gave me a place in the Berlin Marathon. Without that place I wouldn’t have had the confidence to set up my fitness challenge Ben’s Bowel Movements.

No matter how difficult it is and how much it hurts tomorrow I won’t be able to wipe the smile off my face!

 

I was bowled over that some great friends of mine wanted to do their own 'bowel movement' in support if my fitness challenge. Thanks Phil, Sam & Pots

I was bowled over that some great friends of mine wanted to do their own ‘bowel movement’ in support of my fitness challenge. It was an honour to run with them! Thanks Phil, Sam & Pots!

 

 

 

Ben’s Bowel Movements. Running 6 Marathons in 6 months in support of cancer charities:

virginmoneygiving.com/BensBowelMovements

Please follow me on twitter @ChemoDadRuns

Scan results come back good…

Apologies for not posting anything for a while, it’s been a hectic time lately. We finished the course of chemo I was going through then I had a CT scan to make sure the treatment worked, before we resumed chemo again. As I mentioned in my last post the scan at the end of treatment is always the time when I get a little anxious. This was no different, in fact I think I was a lot more apprehensive then usual. Perhaps, it was because everything has been going so well lately. I feel fit, but not just fit, strong and healthy too. I’ve been eating well, lifting weights, doing sit ups (but being careful not to herniate my stoma), press ups and of course running.

 

Been feeling great lately and running up big hills like this one at White Coppice.

Been feeling great lately and running up big hills like this one at White Coppice.

It's been great to go running with Louise lately. Perhaps she might run a marathon with me? ;)

It’s been great to go running with Louise lately. Perhaps she might run a marathon with me? 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I feel great, so was a little concerned that things were almost going a little too well. Lots of people offered me support on Twitter and Facebook. I was quite worried, so all that support was very important to me and helped me before we went to the hospital for the scan and then the results. Anyway, after waiting for a week and getting all nervous all over again we went to see my wonderful Oncologist. He’s seriously fantastic. A friend of mine is fond of saying that people enter your life for a reason. There’s clearly a very straightforward explanation why our Oncologist is in our life. I have have Bowel Cancer, live in Preston and receive treatment at RPH, but I could have lived in a different town, had a different type of cancer and a different medical team. That might sound fanciful, but it’s at least true that I could have been assigned another oncologist at RPH. Regardless of how or why we have our oncologist I’m glad he’s ours!! On scan results day we often try to read the expression on his face, to see what the news is, when he walks in. He’s an amiable, cheery chap, though, so isn’t always easy to read. We were very relieved when he told us we had good news! My cancer is stable and hasn’t grown or spread. He also told us I’d need an ultrasound (which I had last week) because the people performing the scan couldn’t find a vein properly due to how rubbish my veins have become after 15 months of chemo in two years. They did inject the dye, but the vein collapsed (and caused me no small amount of pain, I didn’t scream though, which is usually what happens they said).

 

My arm more than a week after the failed attempt to inject me with imaging dye

My arm more than a week after the failed attempt to inject me with imaging dye

 

The ultrasound showed no abnormalities in my liver. The doctor who did the scan also performed most of the scans, which led to my diagnosis two years ago. He was as kind and gentle last week as he was two years ago. I have been fortunate with the doctors I have had!

While talking to our Oncologist following our good news he revealed to us that he plans to come to my next Marathon at Windermere. It was as much as Louise and I could both stand and we almost wept in front of him. Think we managed to maintain our dignity until he’d left the room or at least I hope so! The list of reasons why he’s awesome is becoming almost exhaustive, but suffice to say we were bowled over. I haven’t heard of a busy, hard working Consultant taking time out to watch a reckless patient embarrass himself on a hilly marathon course. Amazing! Certainly can’t let myself down now.  Its given me a little more motivation to train harder, if any was needed.

 

 

In the Lakes to recce the Windermere Marathon route

In the Lakes to recce the Windermere Marathon route

 

Before we left clinic we discussed the possibility of a break in treatment. I hadn’t realised how greedy I’d become and he gently delivered a little reality check. I wanted a break to help me train for and run Marathons. However, as he pointed out, the only reason for taking a break from treatment was if my quality of life was suffering ie. if I was suffering from bad fatigue, sickness, loss of appetite or anything else related to the side effects of treatment. He pointed out that if I’m well enough to run marathons then I hadn’t any great quality of life issues. I have always been grateful to be able run and do other exercise and it hadn’t ever occurred to me that I might be asking too much. I’m happy to push myself and try and defy popular wisdom around what terminal cancer patients can achieve, but that shouldn’t be at the expense of treatment or family. Louise my wife has reason enough to be cross with me, especially recently when I turned up half an hour late for church after a long run.

 

My beautiful wife Louise always makes sure I make time for training, but also that it doesn't completely take over

My beautiful wife Louise always makes sure I make time for training, but also that it doesn’t completely take over

 

Perhaps sometimes the running takes over a little and I need to achieve a better balance. I’m grateful to our Oncologist and Louise for gently reminding me of the balance that needs to be struck between life, treatment and running.

 

The three of us decided that I would resume treatment the week after, so balance was restored. Treatment is the foundation of my well being and it’s an understatement to say that running certainly would be difficult if my cancer grew or spread. Obviously that could happen at any time if my treatment stopped working, so there’s no point in making things more difficult for myself.

 

Starting chemo again. My sixth course in total. Note my cheerful tee. I always try to get my head in the right place for treatment

Starting chemo again. My sixth course in total. Note my cheerful tee. I always try to get my head in the right place for treatment

 

We were very happy indeed we as left hospital. So happy in fact that we both felt like carefree teenagers madly in love with each other. The relief at getting good scan results is huge and it briefly removes the spectre hanging over us. This feeling gives us an idea of what life could be if not for cancer. It’s not a depressing thought though. It just makes us feel extra grateful for good news and the times when we get to forget about it all. Besides, regardless of our situation, it’s great to feel in love with each other. Louise’s parents have given us huge support throughout my illness and have travelled over from Leeds at least once week since. They were looking after the girls that morning, so Louise and I went for a pub lunch. We had a happy, soppy time gazing lovingly at each other. On the way out we visited the conveniences and shared a kiss as we temporarily went our separate ways. There was a table of good old boys putting the world to rites who shouted for us to ‘get a room’. Louise was already talking to them as I came out of the toilet. It was good, jovial stuff and I shared with them the reason for our display of affection and they offered us congratulations and shook my hand. There’s moments in life that bind you to the rest of humanity and give you the opportunity to share something that people have a universal understanding of, like getting married or the birth of a child. Getting good scan results is definitely worth sharing with other people.

 

Love my girls. They really give me a boost. I want to do my best in the races for them.

Love my girls. They really give me a boost. I want to do my best in the races for them.

 

I then ran the 3-4 miles home from the hospital. I was determined to do that run come what may and I’m really glad we’d had positive results. Can’t imagine what that run would have been like otherwise. Even still I’d just had a nice lunch and tried getting out of it, but Louise wouldn’t let me. It was quite a hard run. It was warm and I’d not run in a while due to a nasty blister occupying the instep of my right foot. I got it during the Blackpool Marathon and because I don’t have an immune system it became infected.

 

My blister. Probably a little tto nasty for a blog post. Comment if you don't like it and I take it down :)

My blister. It stopped me running for weeks. Probably a little too nasty for a blog post. Comment if you don’t like it and I’ll take it down 🙂

 

I started off hard and then ran out of steam, but I wasn’t bothered about pacing it just was great to feel the wind in my… face. 6 days until my second marathon in Windermere. Can’t wait!

 

Added motivation provided by the gorgeous scenery around Lake Windermere

Added motivation provided by the gorgeous scenery around Lake Windermere

 

Ben’s Bowel Movements. Running 6 marathons in 6 months in support of Cancer charities:
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/BensBowelMovements

Twitter:
@ChemoDadRuns