I am running the Bath Half Marathon in memory of my brilliant dad, Pete.
Pete died on 7th October 2010. He was one of the best humans I have ever known. I know it's tempting to think I'm just saying that because he's dead, but for what it's worth, it's actually true.
To be completely honest, I didn't actually realise quite how much I loved him until I called him one sunny day in August 2010, and he told me he'd just found out he had an inoperable brain tumour, and when he'd asked the doctor if 'short of getting hit by a bus tomorrow, this was going to kill me' the doctor had said yes. Then I knew, suddenly, and painfully. It reminded me of how he described feeling when I was born - he said he hadn't realised it was possible to love anyone that much.
Pete had gone into hospital in the Spring of 2010, and been mistakenly diagnosed with Encephalitis, a brain virus. They didn't think it was a tumour, because it was so diffuse. But then it grew. The only treatment options available were to delay the inevitable. There is no cure. All of the doctors and medical staff that treated Pete were great. What this shows is that more research into brain cancers is needed, so that we can identify them sooner, and find ways of curing them. So that we stop losing fantastic people to this devestating disease. Cancer Research UK is dedicated to doing this.
I went down to Bristol the day Pete got the news, and stayed with him for the two months he had left. During that time, he was AMAZING. He said he felt incredibly lucky - he'd had a great life, he was just 'sorry to be leaving the party early'! When we asked him what he wanted to do, given that he was dying - go on safari, jump out of a plane? He said he wanted to drink cups of tea and do crosswords with the people he loved. Oh, and read An Introduction to the Theory of Numbers by Hardy and Wright - a reeeally hardcore maths textbook that he'd always meant to get his teeth into.
Pete's unbelievably positive attitude set the tone for all of us who cared about him. Deb (his partner) came up with a catchphrase - a lyric from a Paul Simon song that Maisie (my sister) and I adopted: 'These are the days of miracle and wonder.' For me it perfectly captured the feeling that every second we had with Pete was a gift, even as he was dying - these are the days, right now, they're all you've got, and there's magic in them.
We cared for Pete at home, and watched as he lost the ability to do anything for himself, including drink cups of tea, or read his beloved maths book. I cannot imagine facing death. The frustration, the pain and the fear; feeling yourself fading away from everyone you love. But throughout it all, Pete was calm, and brave. When an old friend who lived a distance away was leaving after a visit, Pete said goodbye, in the knowledge that it was forever, with a simple grace. He told me he loved me a lot. He never complained once. And he smiled right up until the end.
All of this just makes it worse that he is gone. The world is poorer without him in it. And for a time, that made me feel hopeless. But that's no use to anyone is it? I think he would like it better if I did something positive, to help prevent this happening to more people in future. So that is what I am doing.
Last year, I ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon, in memory of my mum Yasmin, and lots of wonderful people donated generously to the MS Society. This March, I am running my second half marathon, to raise money for Cancer Research UK. I hope to beat my time. And more importantly, I hope you will donate just as generously to this equally worthy cause. Research may not seem very glamorous, but it is the key.
Together, we can beat cancer. It needs beating. Hard.
Cancer Research UK will do it. They have SAVED millions of lives by discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, and survival has DOUBLED over the past 40 years. EVERY DAY in the UK there are more than 400 people diagnosed with cancer that will SURVIVE the disease for more than 10 YEARS thanks to research.
THERE IS HOPE!
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THANK YOU. YOU ARE THE BEST PEOPLE.
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