Once in a lifetime you meet somebody so special that they change who you are as a person.
Once in a lifetime you meet someone who seizes life with both hands and twirls it around as if they are dancing with it.
Once in a lifetime you meet someone so brave and full of courage that it makes you feel as if you can be brave and courageous too.
I met that person, sometime ago it seems – but it has only been very recently that I have realised how rare it is to know somebody like this.
It was my sister who came to me one day and told me that one of her dearest friends had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
Both myself and my younger sister have always been looked after by our elder sister’s friends, and the news really struck me. So much so, that I began checking myself that little bit more often..
Over the following months I observed her positive attitude, determination, strength and the sheer willpower in awe.
Diagnosed with not only breast cancer but also aplastic anaemia (AA – a rare blood disorder where your bone marrow fails to produce essential blood cells) both of which meant regular trips to hospital – sometimes daily to receive treatment over a long period.
Yet despite all of these challenges there was never a grumble or complaint, or negative word – but instead a strong focus on her little girl, her family, exercise and health.
So naturally when the request came, asking if we would join in a charity walk for breast cancer (Walk the Walk 2015) around London with her – there was no hesitation in our response.
The following months before the walk resulted in my own diagnosis of breast cancer, and all the things that it brought. Even then my sister’s friend guided me through, holding my hand using her own experience.
Of course the day of the walk came around too quickly – but I can honestly say that it was one of the most memorable things that I have ever done & achieved, alongside both my sisters, family and good friends.
The atmosphere on the night was buzzing and electric – overwhelming at times because of the adrenaline and nerves. Donning our specially made bras as ‘Team Brabarella’ – we set off on a 15 mile walk around London at midnight.
My friend’s sisters volunteered at the start giving people information, and there were also volunteers all the way around the course who constantly offered words of support throughout the night. Even members of the public cheered the crowds on.
The girls we walked with contributed massively to helping us complete the course – in particular a hilarious sprint to the toilet by my friend who was convinced she wouldn’t make it, and a giant bag of Maltesers purchased for ‘energy’ purposes.
All in all it was fantastic thing to be a part of, and one we will never forget I’m sure.
As we neared the end of the walk, the sun was rising and we were too tired for words – each and every single one of us had almost reached our limit, but we carried on with the hope of making our sponsors proud of us and somehow making a difference.
So we did it, all of us, as a team. We bloody did it – Walk the Walk 2015.
There were thousands of people who completed that walk that night, and thousands more who have supported those fighting breast cancer. No one person is greater than the other, all with a story to tell – but to me one person stands out from the crowd, just that little bit.
Once in a lifetime somebody does something so inspiring that your head is turned, you almost stop still in wonder.
I had never fully understood what is meant when people say that somebody is ‘beautiful from the inside out’, but now I do.
My sister is extremely lucky to have such a friend, as am I. A true inspiration and one in a million.
Sarah you are my hero (and to many more than just me).