Running to fight cancer

LIFE can change in a moment. One minute you’re fine and happy and laughing, the next something happens to change things.  That’s how it was this weekend.

We went to meet some friends for lunch. They’re expecting their first baby, and Chris and I are planning our wedding, so we were all looking forward to catching up. We spent a lovely afternoon in Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire, eating a roast dinner and chatting away about babies and weddings, all of us excited for the future.

On the way home, we received news that a friend had lost her battle against breast cancer. In a second, things changed. Our laughter and happiness were replaced with tears and sadness.

One minute we were talking about life and the wonderful joy of a new baby, the next we were thinking of death. It was hard, impossible, to make sense of it. More so, because my friend was in her thirties, and had a young daughter. She had her life in front of her.

‘It’s not fair,’ I said. ‘She’s too young.’

But cancer doesn’t discriminate. It takes the young and old. It took my Granddad 18 months ago, and now it has taken a friend. Both of them were incredibly brave, battling against something they knew was terminal. I don’t know how they had the strength to fight, but somehow they did. Life was worth fighting for.

At first I was tearful, but then I started to get angry. The anger bubbled away all the way home.

‘Someone needs to do something,’ I said to Chris. ‘Someone needs to stop cancer.’

I wondered who that someone was. A doctor. A scientist. Who?

How can we stop something that takes the lives of so many people?

My anger turned to tears again and then anger, and then I felt energised. I wanted to do something to stop cancer. I wanted to pick up the fight. I wanted to battle for my Granddad and my friend and the millions of others like them.

I’m not a doctor. I’m not a scientist. My GCSE in science will not get me very far in researching a cure, but I can do something.

‘I’m going to run a marathon,’ I said. ‘I’m going to raise money.’

I’ve been considering running a marathon, but suddenly everything became clear. This is what I have to do.

I’ve always been terrified of marathon running. Twenty-six miles is such a long way, and you’ve got to train so hard, and I could go on forever with the excuses. The reality is that when you compare running a marathon to fighting cancer, 26.2 miles seems like a walk in the park.

Instead of just talking about running a marathon, and instead of just talking about doing something to fight cancer, I’m going to do something about both.

I am going to run a marathon. I’m going to raise money to help fund vital research into cancer.

It’s important to keep fighting, whatever way we can.

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