Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A very personal journey

There are moments in life when your faith in human nature is restored to the point where you want to cry with joy. Like the time many years ago when I lent the silk jacket I was wearing to a girl I'd never met before on a mad night out in New York (it's a long story, she worked at a merchant bank and couldn't go into work the next day without changing her outfit slightly, given that she hadn't been home all night.) I did it against my better judgment, expecting never to see it or her again and berated myself for being a soft touch. Imagine my surprise when a month later, a package arrived from Brooklyn, containing my jacket, a thank you letter and a beautiful dress for two-year-old Olivia. It happened again this week. With just three months until the Piste 2 Plage Challenge, I created my charity fundraising page for Help For Heroes. As well as asking for sponsorship, it was also a public declaration of what I have been through over the last 10 months. On the day I race, it will be the first anniversary of my diagnosis of breast cancer. Three operations, four and a half months of chemotherapy and six and a half weeks of radiotherapy later, I'm hanging in there, my hair is growing back after six months of looking like an extra from Alien, and best of all, I feel normal, no scratch that, I feel pretty great. I loaded it on Facebook, Twitter and email and by last night, just over 24 hours later, I'd raised in excess of £1,000 in donations from generous friends, relatives and in some cases work colleagues I have never even met. My day improved when I found out how to view the donations and read the encouraging messages of support. I am so touched I cannot even put it into words. With this in mind, I went out yesterday to buy my cycling gear. Livvy cracked up when I tried on my helmet the wrong way around. It should have been a giveaway that a. I couldn't actually see and b. the flashing torch was on the front instead of the back, making me look like a confused miner. Having been warned about raw buttock syndrome on those skinny roadbike saddles, I bought the most padded shorts I could find, which give the impression that I couldn't quite make the loo in time. Never mind. I'm a runner not a cyclist, but I will be going for it on September 15th alongside 150 other mad souls from the pretty mountain town of Auron to Juan les Pins as fast as my chunky little neon shorts will allow me. Today's picture is of me with my gorgeous soon to be teenager last year in Puglia. She is 13 on Sunday and when asked what she would like to do for her birthday, she eschewed parties and outings with schoolfriends to choose a day at the beach, just the four of us.