As a hospital doctor, as a GP and as a hospice carer, in the last 27 years I have walked with hundreds of people through their individual journeys with cancer. I have seen some wonderful recoveries, witnessed such amazing strength, perseverance and bravery amongst those who are ill and their loved ones and I have been greatly blessed through the privilege of being closely alongside people at times of great vulnerability, trial and suffering.
I have been thankful for the medication we have that can ease this suffering greatly, for the health care system we have which offers, most of the time, absolutely fabulous care during diagnosis, treatment and palliative care and for the personal opportunity to make a difference to these people.
However I have also witnessed the enormous fear, pain and torment that all aspects of living with cancer bring to those with the illness and those who have to watch.
I have more personal experience of cancer too.
At university I shared life and a home for 5 years with my very special friend, Lizzy. She was an inspiration. She was beautiful inside and out. At the age of 29 she was diagnosed with a metastatic non-skin melanoma, a rare form of (usually) incurable cancer. Statistically she had 6 months to live. She put up an almighty fight and defied these statistics but 5 years later, at age 34, she died.
At 40, my husband's sister, Nicola, was diagnosed (incredibly!) with a metastatic non-skin melanoma, the same very rare cancer as Lizzy. Nicola was a shining light in the lives of everyone who knew her - a beacon of positivity, hope, fairness and love with a smile to illuminate the stars, even at her lowest points. At the time of diagnosis she was told there was no treatment that could possibly cure her.....She was entered in to research trials to try experimental chemotherapy but this made no positive difference, in fact it brought terrible side effects and immunosuppression with huge susceptibility to infection. I watched her husband, parents and brothers (one being my husband, Mike) - and all of her family and friends - witness her awful pain and illness, with everyone including medical staff powerless to influence the outcome. 5 months later she was dead.
We humans are not immortal. We have finite earthly lives and we must eventually die of something.....and I believe that the end of our earthly life is by no means the end of our souls, which will live on....
But cancer is a cruel bully. It causes fear, pain and torment in the lives of everyone it touches - it has the power to hurt, maim, weaken and destroy the bodies and emotions of anyone it might, indiscriminately, affect. I never want any other person - or their loved ones - to have to experience what Lizzy and Nicola did. Unfortunately others will.....
But humans are given inquiring minds, great intelligence and compassion - and these drive their ability and will to seek out treatment and cures for cancer. But this needs money - investment - dedication from all of us to pledge to help make it possible.
I am 45. Until recently I was significantly overweight and hadn't run properly for years. In 2015 and 2016 I walked the Chesterfield Race for Life with my wonderful friend, Ruth. These events were fabulous experiences and inspired us both. However this year I knew it was time to push myself to my limits - I am determined to run the 2017 5km race. Training has cost me a lot in pain, nausea, migraines, breathing difficulties and exhaustion! However if the money I raise can help to stop just one person experiencing what Lizzy and Nicola experienced then the sweat and tears will have been worth it beyond description - and if you feel moved to donate whatever you can afford then i am so very grateful to you - and I pledge to train harder and harder so that next year I can run 10km and raise even more!
1 in 2 people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. Every single pound you donate makes a difference to Cancer Research UK’s groundbreaking work, so please sponsor me now.
Donating through this page is simple, fast and totally secure. Your details are safe with Cancer Research UK.