I am 48 years old. I am not a runner. I have never been a runner. In fact, I hate running.
The people who relieve their stress by running “It just clears my head”, those who pack their trainers in their holiday suitcases “Its my gift to myself” - I view these people with deep rooted envy and suspicion.
To be clear, my idea of stress relief is a good boxset and arranging wine, crisps and chocolate around me on a sofa so that reaching for them involves the minimum amount of movement.
So how do I find myself here?
Well, first we need to go back..(you might want to make a cup of tea at this point!)
Four and half years ago my dad was diagnosed with myeloma (blood cancer). It was a terrible few months resulting in multiple hospital admissions, the cancer team juggling different doses and types of chemotherapy to find one that would work. The cancer attacked 2 of his vertebrae which needed operating on. My mother was obviously distraught and the rest of us (2 brothers and 1 sister) rallied and organised round the clock care.
For me, there was this terrible chaos that occurred. I am by nature pretty (very) emotional. Trying to juggle my emotions and remain useful and attempt to organise help, at times, felt completely and utterly overwhelming.
During this time the team at the Hospice of St. Francis in Berkhamsted came into our lives. They were there through everything. They visited dad at home and in hospital, they liaised with doctors about medication, they talked through symptoms, expectations, they ordered and provided equipment, they sat with me and made lists, they provided round the clock contact numbers and there was ALWAYS someone on the end of the phone that knew what to do. They were practical, caring, sensible and full of empathy. They were a lifeline.
Dad recovered well and through a regular chemo regime the cancer was kept at bay. For the next 4 years the team at St Francis kept in regular contact with dad. They visited him, provided physio at home and at their hospice when he was well enough to start driving again. They have remained by his side, offering advice and help whenever it was needed.
The myeloma began to come back in November last year and Dad was put onto a different chemo regime. He had a bad chest cold through January and then collapsed in February. The Hospice team came back in full force and eventually admitted dad to their hospice to care for him there as he was too weak for us to manage at home. They nursed him through his pneumonia and got him strong enough to return home. Dad has been on and off chemo since then and the cancer consultant, nurses and the team at St Francis are working hard to help him find a balance and get back on his feet again.
During this time I found myself screaming at my daughter over absolutely nothing and cutting my hair with a pair of nail scissors and realised I needed a project. A long term, useful project. The 2018 London Marathon had just happened and so I looked their website and amongst their charities I discovered HospiceUK.
Hospice UK is the national charity for hospice care. They champion and help 220 hospices throughout the country (of which the Hospice of St Francis is one) to provide care across the UK, so that they can deliver the highest quality of care to people with terminal or life limiting conditions, and support their families. Young and old, irrespective of faith, ethnicity and gender, hospices are there for them. There is a £2,700,000 million deficit in hospice funding, not per year, but per day.
I don’t know anyone whose life has not been touched by hospice care. My understanding had always been that a hospice was there right at the end of someones life - I had no idea of all the work and care they also provide during a persons life. Our experience with St Francis has been invaluable and to be doing this journey without them would be unthinkable.
For this reason, I have decided that on Sunday 28th April 2019 I will be running 26.2 miles to raise as much money as I possibly can for Hospice UK.
I am currently at week 7 of the “couch to 5km” training program and can run for a total of 25 minutes without crying.
I will keep going.
I will be a runner.
I would be honoured if you can support me.
January 2019 - My darling dad has gone. He spent his last few weeks surrounded by family and love in the Hospice of St Francis They gave us all such a gift of being able to be together as a family and their care of dad was exemplary. I will be running in memory of dad. The more families that can have access to hospice care the better. We were very blessed.
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