Some of you may already know from previous blogs and social media posts that I’m training for the Virgin London Marathon in 5 weeks time.
I chose to ask Worldwide Cancer Research if I could run (well, in reality, after this morning’s aborted long distance training run due to mild injury, probably by necessity, gently jog) my way around the 26.2 miles for their cause. They generously gave me a place and put their faith in me to train hard and fundraise with equal enthusiasm.
Cancer has affected so much of my life. I lost my beloved Dad, at the age of just 60, to lung cancer. I watched my Mum try to find purpose in her life after losing her soul mate. Her bravery and emotional resilience was constantly challenged for the 21 years she lived without her partner. First bladder cancer. Mum courageously won that battle. Then at 76, her body had no strength left to fight, and her frail body succumbed to cancer. My cousin lost her beloved Dad, my Uncle Geoff, to cancer. I have so many loved ones, family, friends, who have either lost someone they love and, heartbreakingly will always miss deeply, or are indeed fighting the big fight themselves.
I’d like to tell you about one special young lady’s story. Namita is just 29 years old. She is the daughter of lifelong friends of my parents and I. She has most of her life ahead of her, and she will continue to enjoy it with the carefree freedom and energy every young person should be able to embody. But there’s something she’s got to get through first.
One evening in November last year, Namita experienced spontaneous seizures. Clinical assessments have determined Namita has a “non-enhancing mass lesion centered on the perirolandic gyri in the right frontal parietal lobes consistent with a low grade astrocytoma”. To most of us, this is a brain tumour in the back of her skull above her right ear. Namita will shortly be courageously undergoing an invasive surgical procedure to remove it. My hope is that she will be held supportively and compassionately through the surgery and post-surgical care pathway by an amazing team of neurosurgeons, neuro-oncologists, anaesthesiologists, theatre teams, nursing staff, physios, and the dozens of professionals it takes to help someone through this course of treatment.
Namita and her Mum and Dad have been living out of suitcases for 4 months whilst they scoured the internet and the globe looking for the best option for their precious daughter. They’ve decided on a team in London. The team could have been located anywhere in the world. Cancer is no respecter of geographical boundaries. Worldwide Cancer Research invests in valued and valuable research into the constantly mutating genes that cause cancers, and into increasingly ground breaking therapeutic interventions to treat, remove, minimise and prevent cancers from reoccurring. It’s a constant, unrelenting race. Without this commitment by scientists and surgeons globally to find more effective ways to treat cancers and prolong life, we wouldn’t have some of the techniques Namita’s surgical team will use: 3T MRI, FMRI for language and motor function, DTI, MEG, neurophysiology and neuropsychology. ‘Awake’ craniotomy expertise enables surgeons to conduct the largest possible resection of brain tumours while minimalising neurological deficit. Gamma Knife and Cyberknife ensure that patients have access to the most extensive treatment options available.
This is why I’m running 26.2 miles for Worldwide Cancer Research. My efforts, and the funds I raise won’t help the people we’ve all already lost. But it will help, and is helping, our loved ones fighting cancer now. It will strengthen the likelihood of improved outcomes for all future cancer therapies. It prolongs life. It improves the quality of life of those living with cancer.
I’m no athlete. I’m nearly 53 years old. After the first 10k of the 44k that a marathon consists of, I know my knees will start to hurt. I know the muscles in my calves will start to tighten. At 20k the muscles in my lower back will start to ache. My hip joints will be angry with me. At the 30k marker, I will have a mild headache and I’ll be longing for the finish line. My pain will be temporary, and it’s a choice I’ve made. A choice that I’m absolutely sure is the right one. Because without the critical funds that events like the London Marathon raise, treasured work that scientists and clinicians do for us in the field of cancers would be financially challenged. It shouldn’t be that way, but it’s the reality.
I’ll be running, jogging, speed walking (hopefully minimally), and eventually staggering across the line on Sunday 23rd April. There will be thousands doing this. Some will make it look easy. Some, like me, will make it look exactly like it is…pushing your body round 44kilometers, 26.2 miles, being carried on the crest of waves of amazing support, generous cheering, and unconditional respect from the city of London! We’re all doing it for causes dear to our hearts and souls. I expect to be on my feet for around 5 hours….told you….I’m no athlete! But I will finish it, probably with tears running down my face…tears of relief, joy, and heartbreak as I remember all those I and everyone I know has lost, and all those I love who are still on their cancer journeys, like beautiful Namita.
Please…..if you have even 50p….would you give it to my fundraising campaign? Don’t look at what everyone else has pledged. People are giving what they can afford. 50p is just as important as £50. Please just take a few minutes out of your day and log on to www.justgiving.com/AlisonDubbins2017 Tell me why you’re pledging. These are the reasons and motives that will keep me going on the day. And my promise to you is that I will hold you all in my heart for every one of those 26.2miles. Thank you.
I’m running the London Marathon on April 23rd 2017 for Worldwide Cancer Research. Please click on the charity’s link to read about their amazing work. If you would like to support my fundraising goal, please click on the justgiving link below. I am thankful for every pledge – they all count.