You may or may not know me well, but that doesn't have to matter. Perhaps you knew my sister, Rhona? Maybe cancer took someone you cared about or loved? A family member, a friend, a colleague in work? It could be something you're dealing with right now.
Cancer has taken a chunk out of my life. My youngest sister, Rhona, died late 2011, about 18 months after she was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma. She was just 33. Her life-long partner, Danny, had died in an accident a few months earlier, which meant that her two children, Rhyss and Brooke, were orphaned. It was a devastating time for all of our family and close friends. We still feel her loss.
Rhona visited South Wales and Cardiff shortly before she passed away; the trip was a dying wish of hers, and she'd never been before. One of my fondest memories of her stay was a boat ride we took together in Cardiff Bay. Half-way around, she looked at me with the most radiant smile and told me 'It's deadly, isn't it'. ('Deadly' is Irish slang for 'amazing' or 'brilliant'.) That moment lit me up and broke my heart all at once. A couple of weeks later she was gone.
I've often thought about doing 'something' in her memory, but was never quite sure what to do. Until now. On Sunday 1 October, I'll be running the 2017 Cardiff Half-Marathon to raise money for cancer research. I work as part of the Staff Wellbeing team at Cardiff University, and will be joining about 350 other staff members as part of #TeamCardiff.
I've never been a 'runner'. I'd very bad asthma in my youth and it made exercise difficult. It was only in my 20's that I started to learn about fitness and health and took steps to improve mine. Football was my outlet.
Kicking a ball about went (mostly) well until St. Patrick's Day 2013, when, during a game, I partially tore the Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) in my right knee. I got back to playing again, but then fully ruptured the ACL, in the same knee, in 2015, again on St. Patrick's Day (Patrick's having a laugh at my expense, right. . .). I'd an operation later that year to repair the menisci and some other bits of the knee, but decided to forego a full reconstruction of my ACL and just live with it. After several months of walking rehab, in March 2016 I got excited and joined in with a parkrun (5K). Even though I was worried about my knee, I loved it! Since then I've built up some running (approximately 14K per week) and off the back of that platform, decided I'd run the Cardiff Half-Marathon. And here I am.
And here you are (unless you've bailed before reaching this point!). Can you help? Any donation, however small, would be gratefully received. You'll be supporting my run, remembering my sister, and helping in the battle against cancer.
For my part, I'll try and run well. I'll be looking to run under 1hr 45mins, which I'd be happy with for my first race (and having no ACL!).
But also, and this is the exciting part, I promise that if you donate, I'll contact you to tell you one thing I like or love about you or, if that doesn't seem appropriate, I promise to express my gratitude for your support. Of course, there's no charge for this service - it's a kind of bonus content. ;-)
Donating through JustGiving is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with JustGiving - they'll never sell them on or send unwanted emails. Once you donate, they'll send your money directly to the charity. So it's the most efficient way to donate - saving time and cutting costs for the charity.