October 18, 2021 4 min read
I was never much of a runner despite having a career that necessitated it.
In January 2018 I told my Dad I'd run Race for Life for him and he could come and see me cross the finish line.
He said ‘ 5k ? That’s only 3miles , you should be doing 10k !’
Sadly, my Dad never got to see me cross that finish line, or indeed any subsequent finish lines, as he passed away in the April succumbing to lung cancer.
And so began my running journey. One race led to another and not only was I out running for fun, I was also at the gym, at spin classes and back in the swimming pool, my favourite place.
I joined The Badass Mother Runners Club, soon followed by The No Drama Llama Runners, both places where like minded people from all over could meet up at events in person or via Facebook pages and support each other.
In June 2019 I noticed a pain in my right shoulder. I put this down to overtraining , and eased up but the problem remained. Trips to the GP, X Rays and hospital visits ensued with various diagnoses, but nothing was solving the issue. More specific tests and scans followed culminating late October with the ultimate diagnosis of Breast Cancer.
I was of course shocked, but switched to my practical head, I would receive treatment and life would be normal again.
Treatment was followed by surgery, which was followed by chemo and then radiotherapy.
In May 2020 the trainers came back out and the first of several very laboured runs took place. I’ve never been a speedy runner when fully fit, but this was slower than slow ! However the more I did the faster I got and the further I ran.
The next six months were in the midst of the midst of the new COVID pandemic, and so 2020 became the year of the virtual event. I went on to take part in numerous 10k's, Half's, Challenges, and more significantly the Race to The Stones 100k, the Wales Coastal Path 870miles and the VVMLM.
And then things went awry again, the scans and tests I'd been having had picked up further shadows in my body.
Further surgeries took place and in November 2020, and major surgery, taking me off my feet completely for 3 months when coupled with more treatments for the now secondary cancer.
During this recuperation period, the person who was to become my fundraising partner in crime and already a great friend, Allan, a successful runner and charity fundraiser in his own right with his #teambertie brand, came up with the idea of a running challenge during the winter months to keep people ticking over and to primarily keep me occupied.
And so The Tenovus Ultra Challenge came into being along with the #cwtchjean brand.
Global participation over 3 months of runners within the groups and others, saw the fundraising figure hit thousands of pounds.I even managed to complete my pledged distance via the spin bike, the comeback was happening all over again, and the trainers came back out to hit the roads.
And then in April this year disaster struck as I found myself admitted into hospital for what would be just over 6weeks. My lungs this time were taking the hit and not only that, whilst in hospital I somehow managed to have a stroke which in turn affected the right side of my body.
Not to be defeated, seeing as I couldn't do much in hospital, I decided that was no good reason for the members of #teambertie to sit idle and so embarked on arranging the Berties Army Half Marathon where funds would go to Allan’s charity of choice.
Upon my subsequent discharge, not being able to walk unaided was not an option I was willing to consider on top of everything else, so whilst I left using a frame, the copious physio appointments and extra work paid off, slowly normality returned.
In July of this year I was able to take part in TNDLR 12hrs of Llama, set up by the group to further the Tenovus total, albeit on my trusted bike again.
The health news has continued not to be the best, secondary, stage 4 cancer rarely is ! As I prepare for more surgery shortly, having had further chemo, I know that this is how my life will be, medicated in cycles. This is totally doable, cancer may be a life sentence but for me I wont allow it to swallow me up and stop me from living my best life.
My running has continued in shorter distances and I've discovered yoga for the first time !
Next year is my 50th birthday and I fully intend to embrace the fact that I can and will run. I’m filling up my calendar...Hell on The Humber, Cardiff Half and The Great North Run so far and having recently been a #teambertie cheerleader at Manchester Marathon with some great friends watching Allan and other friends cross the finish line, who knows maybe a cheeky marathon could be on the cards for me too to get the Tenovus fundraiser from the £7642, to £10k !
I myself refuse to allow to be defined by an illness, which is why I rarely talk openly about it, there are still plenty of my family and friends who don't know the extent of my illness and that's my choice, something which cancer robs you of, choices.
Don't get me wrong, I'm far from a beacon of happiness every day. Some days can be pretty downright miserable, but with the help of some very special friends I always get back to the frame of mind instilled in me by my Dad. It is what it is and if you can dream it, you can believe it, you can achieve it.....