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The London Marathon has always been a far-fetched ambition of mine. In April 2018 I stumbled over the line in the Prague Half Marathon and thought to myself there's absolutely no chance I could run another 13 miles. I then followed my friends training as he prepared for the London Marathon and, again, thought to myself no way could I do that. And having spoken to him following the race, the stories of blood, sweat and tears could have, should have, put me off all together.
However, when visiting The Institute of Cancer Research website I noticed the opportunity to apply for a space in their 2019 London Marathon team and I spontaneously submitted my application thinking very little of it. I never expected a phone call two days later telling me I had been granted a spot.
So here I am, anxious to take part in my first ever marathon, but excited to do it for a charity that works tirelessly to find a cure for a disease that has plagued so many lives directly and indirectly.
Here’s a little on how it has affected mine.
In 2003, when I was 17, my mum, Lynne, was diagnosed with breast cancer. After an extensive course of chemo and radiotherapy, she was given the all clear in 2004 and picked up where she left off, living a fun-filled life.
Six years later, the disease reared its ugly head once again, returning in her bones. Undeterred, mum carried on a 'normal' life whilst undergoing numerous treatments. Two years passed without incident before we received the devastating news that the cancer had now spread to the lungs. After a hard-fought year, which involved many ups and downs, mum lost her battle on the 3rd October 2013.
Almost exactly four years later, my dad, Norman, visited his GP with complaints of fatigue, a loss of appetite and weight loss. As a precaution, he was sent for further tests and in that same week he was diagnosed with stage 4 oesophageal cancer. An inoperable, incurable form of the disease.
The prognosis was poor from the outset and his condition got particularly bad four months into chemotherapy. Fearing the worst, all treatment was put on hold to improves dad's quality of life.
Remarkably, over the next few months he rallied, regaining strength, appetite and some normality in his day-to-day living. During these months he was able to witness my engagement to Becky; the birth of my brother's second son, Jannes; and enjoy his 70th birthday with family and friends.
Sadly, however, after a brave battle, that lasted far longer than ever expected, dad lost his fight on 20th February 2019, but these priceless experiences were made possible because of the advances in medicine discovered by organisations such as ICR. Their incredible work contributed to the extension of my parents lives and has saved thousands of others.
My dad ran in the 1983 London Marathon and frequently reminded me of his impressive 3:50 time. As much as I’d love to beat this, I’m just proud to be following in his footsteps and taking on the marathon as part of Team ICR on 28th April 2019.
I hope to raise as much money from as many kind donors as possible to ensure this organisation continues its outstanding work.
Any donations, big or small, would be massively appreciated.