For the wonderful readers of my blog last year, you will know just how much I pushed myself to give back to others, raise awareness and money for much needed causes whilst cracking my first full year as a freelance consultant. It was all going on. I am so very proud of all I achieved last year but, if I’m honest, it almost broke me both physically and emotionally.
In May 2016, I signed up to run a half marathon. Hilarious. Me, an 11st 3 lazy-arse who didn’t even own a pair of trainers. But, it was all for two great causes; Team Margot and Retrak – I’ve linked to blogs back then on why they mean so much to me.
I started “training” (code for lumping my fat ass around a field because I was too embarrassed to be seen in public). The Gym was a no go, I wasn’t going to be one of them “Newbies” again who proper gym-types hate. I had previously signed up to two different gyms and I have never been in a more intimidating environment in all my life. It wasn’t for me.
So I ran around our local park, building up my distance. I was amazed at how quick I went from “help, I’m having a heart-attack”on 7th May to “OMG, my first 5k” on 22nd May. I was amazed at this achievement so I pushed myself some more. 7.5k was next and my 10k badge followed on 29th May. I repeated 10k on June 1st (and then had the rest of June off to road-trip Europe – code for eating and drinking my way around Europe). I pushed myself again when I returned and was so deflated when I struggled to run 3.5k.
How could having a couple of weeks off make such a difference? I was so close to quitting. I sat in my car and cried. What was the point? I was never going to be able to run 21k anyway. It was a nice idea; a way to raise awareness and money for these two amazing charities.
But no. I was so angry with myself. I had two choices; go home, feel sorry for myself and eat chocolate or finish what I’d started. I’m a stubborn cow. I got out of my car, slammed the door and took off to complete 10k.
It’s fair to say that I was a bit broken afterwards.
The following week, after a pep talk from Phil Wilcox, Andrew Jacobs and hubby, I reluctantly put my trainers back on and headed for the field. This time, it wasn’t about nailing a distance, it was about time. NOT how quick I ran but the time I set myself to be out for that day, 20 minutes. Whatever I ran was the distance I ran. The next time I went out for a run, it would still be for 20 minutes and I’d see if I ran a little further at the end. It was a new way of doing things that I needed. A change of mindset. But still, I didn’t learn.
My first proper 10k since my little meltdown came on 11th July. I hated it. I was so proud of myself but I really hated every single minute I was out there.
To break things up, I did a 15,000ft Skydive on 30th July. The single, most horrific experience of my life. That day still haunts me.
But it was all for Charity and the way I looked at it “if I’m not able to face my fears to help the lives of others, I am a shit human”.
On 6th August, I attempted a fancy-dress 5k for charity. I didn’t do so well but it was fun.
The straw that broke the camels back, 15k, came on 9th August.
Unbeknown to me at the time, pushing myself to hit 15k so quickly was to manifest itself in the form of a very troublesome knee (it felt like it was floating in jelly) and a hip that didn’t want to play anymore (It stuck, clicked and felt like I was being stabbed with a hot poker). I was in that much pain I didn’t run again. Until race day, October 16th.
In between then and race I day, I volunteered in Africa with the Charity Retrak with 9 other exceptional humans. A life changing experience for us all. You can read more about our trip to Uganda here. I blogged daily about what we did, what we saw and how I felt. As a group, we raised £20,000 for Retrak.
October 16th – Race day. I didn’t take it seriously at all. I mean, I rocked up so injured, I had more strapping than clothes.
Figured I could jog / walk my way around the course but as a little challenge to myself, let’s see how far I could get without walking or quitting. Mile 9, just in case you were wondering.
I carried on with a walk for 3 miles then had a row with myself. I picked up the pace and wobbled to the end. 3hrs 20.48.
From that day forth, I vowed never to run again. I even took my trainers with me on our holiday, a cruise, with a plan to hoof them off the back of the boat. I didn’t and they came home with me. I resented them damn shoes so much for the amount of pain they had caused me but I couldn’t bring myself to dump them off.
I proceeded to eat and drink my way through the next 2 months; a 16 day all inclusive cruise, Christmas and New Year festivities – all a brilliant excuse to eat my weight in whatever I could lay my hands on. I have a problem you see. I love food. Not an appreciation of, I mean really love it. I just need to eat. All the time.
I was also working from home a lot so it’s more than fair to say my lifestyle is sedentary. If it didn’t involve a visit to the fridge, I barely moved. It’s now 2nd January 2017. The reality of this day is I’m packing a great deal more timber than I was this time last year.
In fact, I’m heavier now than before I signed up for the half-marathon in May last year. 12 stone 7lbs. or 175lbs. or 79.4kgs. All numbers that have never really meant anything to me nor have I ever paid too much attention to. They sure as hell do so now. My bigger jeans are too tight. My dresses for work make me look pregnant. The only really comfy outfit I have are my PJ’s. This shit has to change.
My light bulb moment came at the same time I was wondering what epic challenges I could do in 2017 to raise even more awareness and even more money for Team Margot and Retrak.
I have to face a demon. Not a fear. That demon is me.
Ever since I can remember, I have pushed myself to prove stuff to others, and for what? To prove that I could, I would, I can, I did? Last year was the first time I did stuff for others because I wanted to. I needed to. All I achieved last year truly completed me as a human, I like to think I’m an ever better human for it. And so it continues. I want to do more, I need to do more for others and I need to face myself, change my mind-set and set new challenges to make that happen.
So what will I be doing this year?
First up, another half marathon on 19th March in Coventry – I will be running for Team Margot.
Then, on 7th May in Stratford – I will be running for Retrak.
Next up, another half marathon in the form of the Great North Run on 10th September in Newcastle – I will be running for Anthony Nolan.
Finally, the beast. A full 26.2 mile marathon on 15th October in Birmingham – I will be running again for Team Margot.
For dear readers, you will know why I am doing this for Retrak and Team Margot. Why am I supporting another Charity? Why Anthony Nolan?
This is why. For our friend, Kurt.
On 26th September 2016, Kurt wrote this.
“So, it’s about time I updated my Bone Marrow Transplant Journey.
I went into Leicester Royal Infirmary Hospital for the start of my treatment on the 2nd June, my first appointment was to have a Hickman line fitted (Tube fitted into my chest and connecting to my main artery, for the Hospital to administer treatment and take bloods)
3rd of June was the start of my chemotherapy, even though I didn’t have any cancer showing in my body the chemo was used to kill my immune system, so that i didn’t reject the donors stem cells. The chemo lasted for 6 days, this made me very ill but was necessary for the next stage…
My Transplant day was Thursday 9th June 2016, this would now be known as my second Birthday, the transplant was interesting but a non event. My Very kind donors blood cells arrived in a silver case and then hooked on my machine and into my Hickman line, I could see the blood cells dancing down the line into my system, this I hoped would save my life, one hour later it was completed and my daily countdown began. The first 100 days are said to be the most dangerous and problematic.
Before I started my treatment I asked the team what the Leicester record was to leave the hospital after the transplant (alive !) 15 days post transplant, ok I now have a goal to achieve, and despite picking up an infection on day twelve, I managed to equal the 15 day record. I was weak and weary but I was back in my own bed just 15 days post transplant.
During the 22 Days in Hospital I managed to faint in the shower and pull down the whole door and ending up sparked out on the floor, I somehow pulled the emergency cord and was greeted with two nurses trying to cover up my bits 😳
My energy level was so low I needed assistance when walking to the toilet and I felt like I’d been hit by the 5.25 train to London !
So getting back home with my Wife and youngest daughter I was hoping for normality to come back in my life but this was not going to happen overnight. I was told by the consultant I needed to visit the clinic once a week for regular blood test and check up’s, this was to be one of the biggest challenges with me spending around 22 + hours in bed per day !
Week after week I asked when I would get stronger ? It will happen soon, they said !
During my stay in Hospital I lost 7 lbs and then another 7lbs when I arrived home due to my appetite being hit by the chemotherapy treatment. Also, even though I was inactive and resting all the time my body was running the equivalent of a marathon a day. Everything was happening on the inside.
After four weeks of feeling weak I finally managed to take a few steps outside but it was just a few steps, I slowly built up strength and my appetite improved which increased my weight eventually back to my normal fighting weight.
I did a few silly things when I was well enough to get into trouble and was put in my place by Chloe and my consultant, I will stress that Chloe frightened me more ! It’s been very difficult to hold myself back when beginning to get better because my immune system will be extremely low for a long time. Even so, to date I have played golf, jogging, biking, tennis and badminton…
My progress is currently good and I was recently told I could move to two week clinic visits. I still needed my Hickman line to be flushed and cleaned so l went into Kettering Hospital for this simple procedure. Within a short time of returning home I was shaking uncontrollably and fitting which resulted in me ending up in the back of an ambulance heading straight back to Kettering GH with a serious life threatening infection, which had been sitting in my line and had spread when it was cleaned. Giving me a five day stay in hospital, Great !
So it’s been sometimes very boring, tearful and a very stressful period of my life but I have always been positive going forward, no choice really..
Today I had my 100 day meeting in Leicester to find out how my work in progress was going… Great News the Scan was all clear and the donors bone marrow cells have now taken over my body 100% which also changes my blood group. My immune system is still non existent as its being suppressed for the foreseeable future to give my body time to adjust to the changes. So i’m still in quarantine until next year but I’m so lucky to be clear of cancer..
When you have been diagnosed with a disease like cancer it’s like your normal life has been ripped into shreds and can’t be pieced together again. Thankfully, with the help of Family and Friends you can cope and deal with it.
In a funny way my condition has been a big positive to me and never a negative, maybe I will explain that in depth one day but today it’s party time………
I will always appreciate the 100% commitment of my wife, chloe, she has without any doubt saved my life with all her research, patiences and caring..
I also would like to thank my Donor for giving me this second chance in life and hope that I can meet the incredible 27 year old uk man who has done such a selfless thing to help someone he doesn’t even know. I would definitely like to buy him a beer.
Enjoy Every Day…… Good or Bad xxxx”
I am elated to say that Kurt is still with us and getting stronger every day. We have Anthony Nolan to thank for giving him a second chance of life.
So, I’m back running again. This time it will be different. I have a plan. A plan I will stick to even if I think I can do more. I’m not an expert so I need to listen to those who are. I’ve been out twice this week, so far.
Every run agony and feeling like I’m about to keel over. The DOMS are just evil. But I will continue. I want to. I need to.
This is not just about raising money and awareness for three amazing charities, although I absolutely want to. This is about me doing something for me. Change my way of thinking, approach things differently, be more open to change, accept the expert opinion, listen to my body, be less stubborn. Oh, and get fit and be less fat. I’ll be super proud of achieving something that I never thought possible and I’ll show my running demon the door in the process.
Your support is, again, much needed. I value every read, share, RT, donation or commitment to sign up to the Stem Cell Register.
You can do all of those things via this page. To donate, please visit my fundraising page here. To register your willingness to donate your stem cells, you can do so here if you’re 16-30 or here if you’re 17-55.
So, whilst I absolutely hate running, I am going again. Doing so may just save a life.