Thursday, 11 August 2016

I wanted to take on a challenge where I’d knew I’d suffer because I wanted to repay The Christie for caring for my mum - Holly Bloor

Holly Bloor, Christie fundraiser

I wanted to start my blog with words contributed by some of the people I know who have had family, friends and loved ones who have had, or are currently battling, cancer. Here’s what they said as dedications:

Cynthia's friend, Steven – positive, a fighter, a new husband.

Julia's twin, Andy – loved by all (Andy Stubbs died 15th July 2016).

Jane's friend, Lesley - never stopped smiling.

Mandy's sister, Michelle – youthful, inspirational, a fighter, beautiful (Michelle Adams died 31st July 2016).

Simon's gran, Joan – brave and inspirational. She will live long in the memories of many (Joan Mitchell died 29th April, 2016).

Donna's mum and dad, Sheila and Barry – as parents caring, generous and selfless. In life, happy and lively. Proud that they were mine! (Sheila Spooner died 28th August 1995 and Barry Spooner died 18th December 2013).

Some of these battles have been won and some lost, some still continue. These words illustrate that cancer is something we all encounter.

In my case I lost my gran to cancer and now my mum is fighting it.

Mum was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014. When someone you love is first diagnosed with cancer it feels like someone has stamped a big full stop at the end of your happiness and it’s really hard to get past the initial feelings of despair.

My mum’s outlook towards her illness is a mixture of positivity, stubbornness and compassion. She just gets on with it; the endless hospital appointments, waiting rooms, scans, blood tests, results, fatigue and nausea. Cancer is an inconvenience! But it is never going to get in the way of her looking after her daughter and my sister, Amy.

Amy is my little sister and she has Down’s syndrome, so my mum is a carer first and has cancer second!

I find a positive attitude like my mum’s is contagious.

Shortly after being diagnosed, she began treatment at The Christie and after every appointment she came home singing the hospital’s praises. She compliments the nurses, doctors, cleaners and people who serve tea in the café, telling me how their friendly and cheerful nature helps her keep her chin up.

She enjoys the memorial garden and I can see for myself from her photographs how beautiful it is. She talks about the hand massages and reflexology on offer to patients. These are small things but they go a long way if you have cancer.

Hearing her talk about The Christie I was inspired to stop moping and get off my bum and do something. I felt totally powerless to help fight my mum’s cancer and realised that the only thing I can do is to try and raise a few pennies to help The Christie charity. I feel indebted to The Christie for helping my mum and I figured I could thank them and help them fight cancer at the same time.

I wanted to fundraise for my mum, for the people I mentioned at the start of this blog and for all those affected by cancer. So I thought about the worst thing I could put myself through and it soon sprang to mind… running. I absolutely hate it!

I sat and thought a bit… I’ll do the Potters half! Then my brain ticked a bit more. No, that’s only one race and the more I suffer the more money people will give me. So, for inspiration, I read a bit about the history of The Christie hospital. I learnt that in 1901 it was renamed The Christie in honour of Richard Christie and his wife Mary. That gave me an idea, what if I run a race for every 10 years it has been The Christie!

So I signed up for the Potters Arf’.

My first run was in late January. It was cold, wet and dark - perfect running conditions…or not. But I was inspired! I was going to become a runner! As I laced up my shiny new trainers I considered how far I should run. Ten miles, eight miles … But I decided on five. Don’t get carried away I thought to myself - it is your first run!

Twenty minutes later I fell through my front door; red faced, sweating and out of breath. My calf muscles, which I didn’t think even existed (I’d certainly never seen them anyway) were so tight that when I had finally picked myself up from the floor, I couldn’t lift my feet and had to shuffle to the settee. Once I’d regained some composure I glanced at Strava (other activity tracking apps are available) and it said I’d run 1.2Km!! I’d only run 1.2Km, not even a mile! One half marathon seemed impossible never mind six full marathons in a row!

I decided that my challenge was suitable. I’d confirmed that I was rubbish at running and so I’d suffer plenty! I would definitely deserve sponsorship! I started to sign up for races; The Potters Arf in June, Ashbourne Half in July, Newark Half in August, Great North Run in September, Manchester Half in October and Lancaster Half in November (the last day of my honeymoon I might add). Following this, I will do six full marathons.

So the day of ‘The Potters Arf’ arrived - June 12th 2016. Ahead of me lay 13.1 miles of running and 260m of hills. At 10am I was waiting to start, surrounded by proper runners uttering phrases such as ‘PB’, ‘Sub 1:45’ and ‘8 minute splits’. At this point my ‘PB’ was managing to only swallow two flies on a training run (I run with my mouth open).

I tucked myself in near the back, next to a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, a helicopter and two bumble bees. Then 10:30am came and we were off! Surprisingly, I soon settled into the run and began to have a whale of a time. The public support was fantastic and I was propelled along by the crowd. At several points throughout the run I heard people shout for The Christie and cheer. The feeling of pride to be running for such a fantastic and well-loved charity was really quite overwhelming. I ran across the finish line in 2:16:56, no ‘sub 1:45’ but not too embarrassing.

Next up was the Ashbourne Half on July 3rd 2016, the same 13.1 miles, but 320m of hills to climb. I was more nervous this time, surrounded by proper runners with lean muscled legs and compression socks, and not a single charity runner in sight. This was going to be a tough half marathon in the peak district, with hills, hills and more hills on a very hot day.
I soon began to suffer. The hills started in the first mile and continued for the next eight! I found myself chuntering ’blinking hills’ as I plodded along. Luckily I had fantastic support from my partner Sean, who cycled to certain points of the race and thrust water and energy gels at me as I stumbled past.

This race felt like the longest 13.1 miles ever and by the last mile I was totally exhausted. However, as I entered the last 500m I saw my little sis Amy and the rest of my family and it was all worth it. Amy even raced to the finish with me and was far sprightlier than me.

To be honest, despite training I haven’t really improved. Now I just run farther, but the end result is still the same – a red, sweaty mess. When I’m out running I often encounter other female runners. I watch them run past gracefully with their long legs in little shorts and no cellulite! When will I start look like that!

I’m now two half marathons into my challenge and so far I’m four toenails down with a fifth one looking dubious. I’ve swallowed millions of bugs and at least one moth! Half of my body is chafed but (at the point of writing) I’ve raised £853.50 of my £1,000 target, so every second of suffering is worth it and let’s face it, this is insignificant suffering compared with having cancer. Cancer really sucks.

I feel almost like we are in a war. A war against a tiny enemy that we can’t see and don’t truly understand. There are millions of fundraisers like myself and I view us as the foot soldiers. We walk, run, swim, climb, hurl ourselves out of planes and off bridges, bake cakes and shave our heads to try and to raise as much money as we can in order to provide the ammunition to fight cancer. But we are not the heroes, those with cancer are the true heroes.

Help me say thank you to The Christie for my mum and millions of others at

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