I have a bit of a history with the Race for Life. The first time I ran it was with my friend Jane, we worked together at the time. She had lost her father to cancer and she vowed that she would do something to raise money for the charity that had helped with his care. Jane couldn’t run and neither could I.
We both trained, and when the day finally came I was glad that I could stand by her side and be her support. As it happened on that day Jane went over on her ankle, painfully swollen she had to slow down – and so I did too, much to her protests. We walked the race, step by step, together, and if my memory serves me correctly she ran the last part. She was so disappointed that she did not ‘run’ the race and she felt like she had let down those who had sponsored her (of course she had done nothing of the sort).
The next year we ran the race again, and this time we did not stop.
That was many moons ago. I have moved on and I live and work somewhere else nowadays. Even so, I often think about our old life and the friends that we left behind. I look back at the races that I ran and I realise that I didn’t truly understand the pride of the people running and how it really feels to run in the memory of someone that you have lost. I understand it now though all too well.
One day recently I was sitting at work and I received an email from a friend that I used to work with. How lovely that we still kept in touch I thought. This email was not one that I was expecting however. As I read the words, I slowed down so that I could take them in – the words were telling me that Jane was ill. She too had breast cancer – my heart sank, and I had to re-read it again just to make sure that I had not made a mistake. No mistake had been made.
On the very same week I received another message asking if I would take part in the Race for Life 2016. This time though, it would be a large group of friends and family who had decided to run together in memory of a very special lady – Connie Holmes.
Connie also got through breast cancer, and fell ill again more recently. The cornerstone of her family, the pride of her children, Connie was a beloved wife, mum and grandmother. The race is to be run on Holmes Hill – and I agreed without hesitation, to give my support even though I cannot run. I am unfit. My back goes frequently and I struggle with fatigue daily.
If there is one thing that having cancer has taught me though, is that anything is possible. I can and I will run that race.
The Race for Life is not about running, it is not even about raising money. It is about community and standing together against a rotten, shitty disease that takes people from their loved ones, cruelly and unfairly. Sometimes it feels as if it is unbeatable, sometimes it feels as if it is everywhere we turn, and it does not discriminate. And yet something is stirred in those that it effects, friends, family those who want to join together and help to find a cure.
As the race day draws near and the nerves begin to kick in, I cannot help but wish that I was running it in the state of health that I used to have. To most 5km is not a long distance and indeed it probably isn’t for those who run regularly. For me however, it will be quite a challenge. I cannot help but wish that I could run it with Jane, together, helping each other through and making each other laugh. Not this time though. Jane is in recovery, as am I, and if we are lucky we will regain some of our health and be thankful for it.
This time, I will be running for the memory of Connie Holmes, on Holmes Hill, and the day has all the makings of something very special. We have checked the weather forecast and the rainy weekend will have a few hours of sunshine at the precise moment of the race. I will be running with Liz, Alison, Marcella, Carolyn (in India) Georgina and her grandchildren Alfie and Oli and Zadie, together with many, many others who are determined that cancer will not win,
hope will though – hope for a cure.
This post is dedicated to Connie Holmes.
I am honoured and inspired to have been asked to join with your family and friends, holding hands and uniting together in remembering a truly special lady.
Race for Life is organised by Cancer Research https://www.justgiving.com/detricematthews8