Race For Life

It goes without saying that Cancer Research are an incredible charity; the work they do literally saves lives.

Cancer Research are continually discovering new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer. Did you know that in the 1970s, the 10-year survival rate was as low as one in four? Today, thanks to Cancer Research, half of people diagnosed will survive for 10 years or more. They are committed to ‘beating cancer sooner’ and whilst they work towards that goal they also develop evidence-based policy to inform Government decisions related to cancer and research. All of which they do without any government funding! Incredible. So given my experience with #FUCancer I wanted to share my story beyond the confines of wordpress. Today, I was invited to Cancer Research’s Race For Life at Hopetoun House to do exactly that.

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After signing up for the 5k I recruited a team of friends to unite as Team #FUCancer to run, march, skip and dance the route together. At the start of the day I was welcomed on stage by Heart FM’s Paul Harper to give a brief overview of what my family and I had endured in the past year. The crowd were very supportive but I think the warm reception was down to Parsnip being on stage. That dog loves the limelight! It was inspiring to see an army of women, children and dogs dressed in pink gathered for the same goal: beat cancer! I had the huge honour of starting the race.

As I ran around the course I found myself casting back to this time last year when I was in the midst of treatment and beginning to experience the menopause. It was tough. I have come to realise I am reminising a lot at the moment. I know they say you shouldn’t look back but I find it a huge motivator in enthusing me to move forward. So that is exactly what I did, I ran towards the finish line. I owe a huge amount to Cancer Research and today was only a small part of how I intend to show my gratitude. It was privilege to signal the start of the race and I am so proud to have been a part of it along with my friends.

#FUCancer

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Parsnip the Wonderdog

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Following my diagnosis my next appointment is where I met my oncologist who went into great detail about treatment and its side effects. As always I had the superb team of Iceberg, Buggernuts and the Funny Boy by my side. As Dr Stillie described the likelihood of constipation, diarrhoea, sunburn, cystitis, menopause and fatigue (to name but a few side effects) I had a whole host of questions. In addition to this the super team each had their own valid questions.

‘How long will recovery take? Would it be advisable for Heather to go on holiday? When can she exercise?’

In true Funny Boy fashion he surprised us all by asking the oncologist:

‘What are your thoughts on Heather and I getting a puppy?’

Naturally the oncologist stumbled a bit, no doubt in shock. Iceberg and Buggernuts immediately shook their heads in disapproval and disagreement before Dr Stillie went onto remind the Funny Boy that puppies require a lot of work, sometimes carry infections and ultimately are exhausting. Therefore not ideal to have around whilst undergoing treatment. Meanwhile I simply looked at the Funny Boy in astonishment ‘Where did that question come from?’

At the time I recall counting down the days left of treatment and wishing myself a rapid recovery. It was arduous in a physical and emotional capacity. However I now feel as though the whole process has whizzed by in a very quick flash. As the immediate side affects to treatment such as nausea, diarrhoea, constipation and vomitting began to subside, I found myself struggling to look toward the future. As previously described it was an incredibly emotional time for me. Life in limbo seemed to last even longer than the treatment itself.

At the start of the final week in July I recall discussing my birthday which I was due to celebrate on the Wednesday. Since hitting my 20s I always use birthdays as a time of reflection to see how far I have come in a year and identify the goals that still need ticking off. Despite my 27th year being a pretty productive one I wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. The prospect of it being my final birthday didn’t leave me with the ‘make the most of it’ style approach you would expect. On the Monday evening of that week I was unconsolable with fear, anxiety and anger. However the Funny Boy had a trick up his sleeve. Upon hearing his plan we woke up early the following day to take a journey to Middlesbrough to collect our puppy! The first time I saw her tiny Black and Tan face it was love at first sight.

Prior to being diagnosed the Funny Boy and I had created a bucket list. Upon that list we had both identified the goal of one day having a dog together. The Funny Boy made that goal our reality. As I sit here now I have my new best friend coiled up in my lap. The superb team of Iceberg, Buggernuts and Funny Boy has a new recruit and her name is Parsnip!

Upon my journey I have attempted to give people an insight as to what cancer is like. What I haven’t done is tell you how much companionship and love this little bundle of joy has brought me. Even the disapproving duo of Iceberg and Buggernuts love Parsnip. They have seen the power she has to help me through the hard days. Don’t get me wrong – she pees for Britain and poops in the house more often than I’d care to share but she is a great source of motivation. Following treatment she was the first thing that allowed me to feel like a carer opposed to being the one who everyone else was caring for. I was responsible for feeding her, walking her & putting her to bed. My life had a new focus which was more fun, optimistic and enjoyable than cancer. Parsnip helped me look forward for the first time in months. She is a very big piece in my jigsaw puzzle and without her the picture would never be complete.

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My new best friend and I

 

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IMG_4170.JPGParsnip clearly loving her new jumper!?