When I was sitting in that hospital room with the consultant in front of me, the nurse hovering at my side with a box of tissues and the words “bowel cancer” hanging in the air, life as I knew it came to a stifling halt. But, outside of that door, the world kept moving forward. Who knew what was going on in those other consulting rooms. There might have been other people like me, other people receiving an equally crushing diagnosis. Other people whose life had abruptly come to a halt. At that point I made a vow, I was going to tackle it head-on. I was going to give it everything I had. I just needed to know that I had a fighting chance. For now (and I hope it continues) I have a chance.
Cancer Is Scary
Dealing with cancer is scary. It feels like your life is slowly crumbling, you no longer recognise the life you find yourself in. There is no sense of control. You have to hand your control over to the experts and trust them implicitly. You need to have faith in your medical team. Yes, you do your bit but cancer is a crafty bugger and that’s why you need to have the best team fighting your corner.
I struggle with this loss of control as I am always someone who needs to be in charge. I like to have a routine, a set of outcomes that I can predict. It’s the ex-teacher in me. Now I am told to take each day as it comes, not to plan too far for the future. That goes against everything I believe in. I have to have a plan.
Taking Back Control
I might not be able to control my cancer completely but I can choose my attitude. That’s why I’m running/plodding again. Putting on those leggings, or asking someone to pull them on for me when the pins and needles are too bad, lacing up those shoes and pounding the pavements is me clawing back control of my day to day life.
Running is good for my mental health. In those minutes that I manage to run without stopping, I believe that I can beat this. I know that I might not beat this cancer. I know that I might not be around to see my girls grow up but putting one foot in front of the other keeps those destructive thoughts at bay. If I can plod, I can stick my two fingers up at Phyllis.
When the consultant delivered the news of my bowel cancer, I saw the sympathy and the sorrow in his eyes. I witnessed how everyone held their breath as they waited for me to react. They were worried about me, they were embarrassed that they were having to tell me that news. I never want to sit in a room and feel like that again. I want to feel strong and in control. Running helps me with that.
Living with cancer makes me feel as if I’m draped in a heavy cloak but I am the only one that can see it. I realise that cloak isn’t just cancer, it’s a symbol of my fear. Plodding helps me shrug the fear away. It turns my cloak into a superhero one. I might not be fast, I will never be Mo Farrah, but I’ve got bowel cancer and I’m running through my chemo and I think that’s pretty awesome.
Yes, I feel a little bit ridiculous when I’m trying to run, but then I remember why I am doing it. I’m running away from cancer, I’m running away from Phyllis. That shuffle takes me further away from the darkness. So when I feel as if I’m going to vomit, I carry on pushing forward. When my pins and needles are coursing through my body, I fight through the pain. I won’t let Phyllis control my day to day life.
For as long as I can keep on running, I feel more in control. However, I still need a plan and a challenge. You might think that cancer is a big enough challenge but it’s also one that is out of my control, one that I can’t fight on my own. But running does give me a sense of control. I need something to aim for and that’s why I have signed up for the Cancer Research Race For Life at the end of May. I might have to walk it but I’m bloody determined to do it. It has given me something positive to focus on, something that I can do to make a difference. I’m determined that something good will come out of this.
Why It’s Important To Me
Raising money helps to keep the sadness at the bay, it stops the fear from consuming me. Aiming to run Race for Life tricks my brain into thinking I’m okay. Running might not cure my cancer, but it helps me feel strong. It helps me deal with a brain that feels like it might implode some days.
My life might not be the same as it once was, but running is allowing me to tell my own story. I refuse to take to the settee. I refuse to cower in the shadows.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days that I have to do that, but I will always aim to put those trainers on and leave those dark thoughts behind. When I am running I am no longer under the control of Phyllis, I’m me again.
If you would like to sponsor me you can do so here. Thanks to all of the amazing people who have kindly donated. Together we are making an incredible difference. With you on my side I feel like I can do this.
At the time of typing we have raised £1,250. I’m blown away by that amount. You all raised that in less that 78 hours. You guys rock and keep me plodding forward.
Thank you, I couldn’t do it without you.