When I think about the number of lives that have been blighted by this horrendous disease, what I feel is an overwhelming sadness. Cancer. Invasive, destructive and evil, it lives up to its meaning in every sense. The disease that puts the fear of god into all of us, seems to grow inexplicably and rips people away from us too soon. And yet yesterday, at the Pretty Muddy run in Mote Park Maidstone, there was such a positivity about fighting it, it was infectious in the very best way.
Pretty Muddy is a big event, make no mistake. For anyone that doesn’t know it’s a 5k obstacle run and it is a blast! When we first arrived I had a good look around and reading peoples faces was hard. Some nervous, some anxious, some emotional, some excited. It was a real mix. When I read the dedications, hand written by each participant, I swallowed hard and focussed on how I could make it better. Complete my little run and deliver on my promise to all those kind souls who sponsored me, I thought. And there was no way you couldn’t smile while doing so. Genuinely, it was so much fun.
The arena area at Mote Park was packed out and there were plenty of people along the route showing support too. Literally hundreds of people turned out to cheer in support of friends and loved ones. In that moment I thought, how can “it” win? In this day and age, medical marvels as frequent as they are, surely we have to be closer to ridding ourselves of it. That show of positivity, solidarity and well, love, should be enough to fix anything. I know it’s not that simple. But if only it were…
If you’ve ever considered doing Pretty Muddy, don’t think anymore, just do it. I’m not a runner, in fact I can categorically say I bloody hate running. But the obstacles are so much fun and there is no pressure to compete for a finish time or do any of the obstacles you don’t want to. And when I saw people twice my age doing it, I thought, really, I have zero excuses. What I do have a million reasons to say yes. As do so many others. Like the 67 year old lady who got stuck at the top of the a-frame and my team mate who held and helped her down the other side. Both there for independent reasons yet unified in their utter contempt of this shitty disease. It’s a perfect tag line, “we beat that a-frame and we will beat cancer”. I was – and still am – buzzing from the whole experience.
Today I feel more reflective and if I’m honest, a little of the sadness is back. I ran for our Nannies. My Nan who passed in the spring, Paul’s Nan who has been gone for 8 years but is missed every day, the Nan I never got to meet but know I would have adored, and my baby’s Nanny who is fighting it right now. I know there is a circle of life. And I also know that fate can deal us a bad hand. But when I think about those who have suffered – or continue to suffer – I feel angry as hell. And when I say those who suffer, I don’t just mean those who are physically fighting the battle. I mean the ones who sit by a victim’s side; swallow their emotions in a diagnosis; hold a hand during a treatment; or very worst case, deal with all the practical aspects if it all fails. To those who show strength and love by silently doing your best to support everyone around you, I salute you. My muddy high five is for you.
Every single person involved yesterday, runners, organisers, supporters, will continue to fight. We want to help find a solution. And if that means doing ridiculous challenges and rubbing myself in mud, I’m in. So fuck you Cancer. You won’t beat us. We will fight and we will do it smiling.