In my last post 'Health, happiness and a remarkable teenager', I wrote about the importance of taking on board the incredibly wise and brave words of 19-year-old Steven Sutton who recently lost his battle with bowel cancer.
The sentiments discussed in this post have remained at the forefront of my mind over the past week. In just over two weeks I will participate in my local Race for Life event for the third consecutive year. My daughter will run with me for the second year in a row.
Two years ago I ran with the fresh image of my father in a high dependency ward, having just had surgery to remove a cancerous growth. Last year I ran with hope for him - albeit a hope so fragile that I was scared to examine it too closely. This year that glimmer of hope is in tatters. My very dear dad is no longer with us. But I continue to hope for all the others who are fighting this terrible disease.
My reasons for participating in Race for Life are therefore pretty obvious. And I believe that most of us who have a cause that we are passionate about, and raise funds for, have a painful and personal story that accompanies it.
The verses below explain more than anything else why I'm committed to my cause. Written in one of the many long dark sleepless nights following my father's death, they capture how I felt about my family's experience of suffering, illness and loss. I'm not sharing them to make other people sad. And I'm not sharing them as a precursor to a fundraising plea. I'm sharing them to urge you to all continue to fight for your cause.
It's easy to feel helpless in the face of some of the terrible diseases and conditions that our loved ones encounter. But I firmly believe that our individual efforts really can make a huge collective difference.
As I line up to run on Sunday, 22 June I may no longer have the glimmer of hope for my own beloved parent. I do still have hope, though. In the supportive company of thousands of other women, many of whom will be fighting their own personal battles, it's impossible to feel anything less.
On a carefree Scottish summer day you tiptoed through our door
Back then we had no inkling of the pain that lay in store
You crept into our family and slowly took a hold
The horror of your presence would gradually unfold
When we knew that you’d arrived, a plan was put in place
It seemed that we would have to stare our worst fears in the face
The surgeons tried their very best to stop your grim assault
Despite their finest efforts, there was to be no halt
Then there followed treatment with more suffering on the side
Over time we realised that there was nowhere to hide
And as our options dwindled, your cruel strength grew and grew
As you callously invaded the loved one who we knew
He put up fierce resistance and fought on with all his might
But you were quite determined that you would win this fight
And so your ghastly presence was felt more and more each day
While we all looked on helplessly as you stole him away
Your mission is accomplished and our beloved one is gone
But our quest to find a cure for others goes on and on and on.