Tuesday, 13 March 2018
Today marks 5 years since I was diagnosed with kidneycancer. Strictly speaking I didn’t actually hear the word cancer until the following day. What I did hear was whispering nurses saying, “She doesn’t know yet” and a doctor mentioned a ‘mass’ in my kidney. Either way Wednesday 13th March, 2013 was the day that turned my life upside down, a day of firsts and the last time I would be carefree about my health.
It would be my first (and second) ride as a patient in an ambulance complete with blue lights, my first CT scan and hospital admittance other than pregnancy. Before that day I was blissfully unaware of the 7cm tumour growing inside my left kidney. Plans that day had included completing a catsuit order for a Clothes Show customer and arranging a photoshoot for my new collection. The tumour however had other ideas and decided to make itself known by hemorrhaging, an action which in turn caused the excruciating pain which triggered my collapse.
I’ve made no secret of the fact my hospital care has been sketchy to say the least. It still upsets me when I look back as memories of my treatment are as painful to remember as the cancer itself. The decision to put my blog into book format has exacerbated these feelings as reading them over is like reliving it again. I’m currently on my third draft of the Unfashionable Cancer novel, there are parts I want to rewrite and others I want to erase but it’s real life and I can’t change what happened.
The way I chose to turn my life around has been through fitness. First yoga became a routine part of my week following physiotherapy sessions for nerve damage. A year later I began running, initially in Race for Life with my daughter where I rediscovered my love for the sport. An athletics club member in my youth I’d run regularly until my teens at middle distance. Getting back out there was a revelation, it not only improved my fitness but healed my mind. Running somehow gave me clarity and headspace that has helped me come to terms with all that’s happened.
I took part in a couple more races at 10k distance and then set the ultimate goal, to run a marathon for my 5 year cancer anniversary. Last October I reached the half way mark when I ran the Birmingham Half Marathon, I couldn’t believe how emotional it was crossing that finish line. On Sunday May 13th I will be taking part in the Shakespeare Full Marathon, Stratford on Avon. As I’m working my way through writing a book it seemed an appropriate event to enter as well as being one of the smaller marathons; I wasn’t keen on the huge crowds at Birmingham.
This evening I was back out after a break of a couple of weeks from running, it still doesn’t come easy but I’m determined to do this. I haven’t run more than 14 miles so the next 8 weeks are going to be full on but if I’m going to do it, I’ll do it to the best of my ability. It’s not just my 5 year goal I’m marking, most importantly I want to raise funds for early diagnosis of kidney cancer and patient care. My fundraising page can be found here An Unfashionable Cancer Marathon where there’s more info about the charities Kidney Cancer Support Network and Facing Up 2 Kidney Cancer.
Kidney cancer is still an unfashionable cancer but it’s on the increase and desperately needs more funding. I am one of the lucky ones and by putting one foot in front of the other I am beating this disease and can hopefully help others do the same.