I run to prove I’m still alive – it’s how I cope with the mental mind f*** cancer brings – The Sun

ONE step at a time.

One of the many things cancer has taught me is to take each day as it comes.

To be alive now, three years after I was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, feels like a miracle. The reality is, I should be dead.

But not only am I here, my latest scans showed no evidence of any active disease.

It's the technical way of saying, I am – in effect – cancer 'free', for now.

Outrunning cancer

The day I got those results, I ran to The Royal Marsden in south London.

I was terrified, I had convinced myself that my new aches and pains were new tumours growing out of control somewhere inside me.

But, I decided to run to the hospital to get my results – to try and tell myself I might be wrong.

Running to the Marsden has become one of my coping mechanisms.

If I can run 8km from my home in Barnes, I can't be dying, right?!

It doesn't matter how long it takes me, if I can get there in one piece I feel alive. It helps clear my head before I have to face my results.

I joke with my oncologist that it's either running or drinking all the wine beforehand – so we agree, for once I'm making the sensible decision.

Mental mind f***

Cancer is as much a mental challenge, as a physical one. In many ways the mind f*** is worse than the cancer itself.

It's a physical disease, but living with it takes mental resilience – something that is hard to maintain 24/7.

It's not just the bad news that's hard to take.

If I can run 8km from my home in Barnes to hospital to get my results, I can’t be dying, right?!

Hearing I am cancer 'free' was almost as hard to get my head around as a new tumour.

In some ways it was harder, it's a complete unknown.

At least with a tumour, we can formulate a plan to get rid of it – there's something we can do.

With no active disease in my body right now, it just feels like a waiting game. One day at a time, until my next set of scans.

Marathon challenge

So come unexpected good news and the dreaded bad – I run.

After hearing my consultant tell me I'm 'rewriting the textbook' and have no active cancer rampaging through my insides, I ran.

I walked out of the door and ran home sobbing my heart out, one step at a time.

When I got home, I sat down and checked my emails – immediately accepting the London Marathon place that I knew was sitting there in my inbox.

I've been waiting five years to say yes to a place.

But be it pregnancy, work, unsuccessful applications, injury and more recently cancer – I've missed out.

So finally my dream to run it is within my grasp.

Running for hope

I'm excited, nervous and desperately hoping I get the medical OK to run.

I want to run it for all those who can't.

Every day 1,000 people are told they have cancer, and every day that passes 44 more lives are lost to bowel cancer.

I remember the feeling when I was first diagnosed, I was full of fear and felt all hope was lost.

I remember thinking everyone dies of cancer, and not seeing much to prove otherwise.

I am so grateful to be where I am right now – I know many don't get to feel so lucky.

I want to give those people – those friends of mine – hope.

Those people feeling scared and hopeless in the face of their diagnosis.

And friends sitting in the chemo chair, struggling to summon the strength to even get home.

And I want to do it to raise money for the incredible hospital and staff that keep me alive – The Royal Marsden.

Training my broken body

Mentally, I am ready to go. Physically, there's still a way to go.

Cancer has destroyed my faith in my body. Where I once felt it could do anything – childbirth, extreme stress to name a couple, now I feel weak.

I am still on very aggressive and draining treatment, that comes with a long list of side effects.

I have long-term side effects from years of chemo, which means I don't really have great feeling in my feet.

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