Sunday, 3 November 2013

The story begins...

FOR 40 years since leaving school, I had only ever run for a bus. And I was so slow I still usually missed it.
To be honest, I’m not sure I even ran that far at school. There were a couple of us I seem to remember trailing far behind the pack and looking for short cuts through Sefton Park in Liverpool so we could cheat and rejoin the rest later in the cross-country race.
But that all changed in February this year. I lost my brave and beautiful wife Diane to metastatic breast cancer after seven years of battles, chemo, radiotherapy, tablets and pain.
The loss was devastating, particularly as her coming off the treatment in November last year had given us hope that we had got over the worst. We had already started making plans to do things we had put on hold when she fell ill again over Christmas and New Year. She grew steadily weaker and finally succumbed on February 6.
With Diane suffering so much, my own health had gone downhill, too, without realising quite to what extent. I had been diagnosed in 2011 with Type 2 diabetes and in January this year, I was “morbidly obese” (as they so scarily put it) at nearly 23 stones, my back was starting to object to the weight it was having to carry and my legs were starting to give way.
Now I had lost Diane, I felt alone, weak and vulnerable. Thankfully, she told me to do something about it. And thankfully, I listened to her (as usual).

Diane was my inspiration in life, and she will remain that forever. What happened next is down entirely to her.

I had to sort myself out. For a start, there were two wonderful doggies grieving for their mum who needed a dad who didn’t run out of breath 50 yards into a walk.
So I joined a gym over the road on April 19. On the day I signed up, I couldn’t walk for more than a minute on the treadmill let alone run.
Then, gradually, session by session, I found myself doing more and more. But I needed a target. So I decided to aim for a 5K run and chose one in September as my goal – or maybe Diane chose it. It was the City of Salford 5K, and Salford is where she was born.

I ran it. With Diane. Not for Diane or in memory of Diane. But WITH Diane. She was with me every step of the way – after all, we had done everything together for the past 20 years, why should it be any different now. And that's where the Running With Diane in aid of Breast Cancer Care idea took off.

Diane still fills my heart, my thoughts and I still turn to her for help. I can still feel her hand in mine, her head on my shoulder and hear her voice in my ear. So don’t tell me she’s gone. Because she hasn’t.

That's why I was Running With Diane. And will continue to run with her, every race I do.

Late on in the preparations for the race, I found myself in front of the computer at home, one Sunday morning, thinking – as usual – about Diane. And I started to write. And as I wrote, as I expressed for the first time my emotions from this terrible year, I felt I needed to help others who were going through what we had endured.
So the words I’d written became the heart of a Just Giving page and I set about raising the proverbial “few bob” for Breast Cancer Care, the charity that does so much for cancer sufferers and their families and friends.

The words clearly struck a chord. 

Within hours of the page being put up, donations from friends and work colleagues started to come in. We all raised over £1,600 in the end – a staggering amount given it was just a debut 5K and I was overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.
I was told people were inspired by my words. Much the same way that Diane inspired me to write them. And so, in the hope that my story can inspire others, I decided to launch the Running With Diane campaign in aid of Breast Cancer Care.
Keep that in your mind at all time. For those of you who have lost loved ones like I lost Diane, this is something we will do WITH those loved ones.
You and I together will get through our pain by running, jogging, walking, hobbling or shuffling along and raising awareness of the fantastic work Breast Cancer Care does.

Oh, and for the record, since January this year as a result of all this, I have so far lost five and a half stones in weight (at least three more to go), lost six inches off my waist and dropped five shirt sizes. My diabetes is now undetectable and I've got two 10Ks under my belt with more to run in the coming weeks.

All through one day deciding to start Running With Diane.

Now it's getting
serious, Diane...

Diane spent her childhood in Rotterdam. She grew up there and loved the city. It always had a special place in her heart and we promised each other that one day we would visit it together and she would show me where she laughed, played, cried and learned to be the wonderful person she became.
But we kept putting it off and when she was diagnosed, it was shelved altogether. It was one of those things we were planning to do again when she got better. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.
And so to celebrate her childhood years in Rotterdam, I have decided to run the city’s marathon on April 13, 2014, through the streets where she grew up.

And I’ll be doing it with her. Running with Diane.

You can join in the adventure by signing up to this blog via your email, following my journey and being a part of it yourself. Over the coming months leading up to the marathon, I’ll be updating my training progress, talking more about Diane and trying to express how I feel about losing her.
All I want is not to let Diane down and do everything I can on her behalf to help others in our position. I’m hoping people will take some inspiration from my and Diane’s story.
Diane and I hope you can join us...

1 comment:

  1. Please share your experiences if you have lost someone close to you.