Thursday 20 February, 2020

From cancer treatment to running marathons

Sara, based in the UK, all-round wearer of crazy headgear and breast cancer survivor.
From cancer treatment to running marathons.

The moment that changed my life was the day I met Alexander Litvinenko.  It was a cold wintery night in the February of 2015 when he appeared at my bedroom sky light, he burst through the glass and tried to drag me out of bed, through the window to my death.

No, I had to fight this one alone.

I was terrified and yet strangely calm. And I had a fever and was hallucinating and I knew it. Knew I had to get through this, somehow I had to talk myself down. I was home alone, and even if I had thought of it, I don’t think ringing the emergency services and telling them that a dead Russian defector was trying to kidnap me and take me to my death was going to help. No, I had to fight this one alone.

It was in this moment that I found some kind of inner strength. I called upon the part of me that knew this wasn’t real. I repeated over and over “this is not real, it will pass”

And after a few hours of chanting this mantra over and over again with eyes tightly squeezed shut, I won.

Defeated, Litvinenko disappeared out of the window and left me to deal with my chemo-intoxicated, clammy, nauseated, bald sick self.

I may have been feeling at an all-time low, and I may have even visually resembled Litvinenko but something in those moments left me with a new skill of how to get through some of the greatest challenges of my life.

Before I was diagnosed, I had signed up to run the Brighton Half Marathon.

It was going to land right in the middle of my last round of chemo but some reason I felt compelled to keep my place. OK, so I didn’t run it, but I did walk it in a pink onesie and a fabulous top hat .

But I wanted to do more than this.

And then one day, offering me a place on London Marathon, just like that…on a plate. Before cancer, I would have made any excuse not to run a marathon, but the truth is the only thing that was stopping me was fear; fear of failure, fear of not being good enough. And yet now, before I could stop the words coming out of my mouth I had said a big fat, resounding YES.

I found myself telling friends and family, and then I posted it on Social Media…. I was accountable and determined. So I had to do it,.

I had finished my cancer treatment. It had been nearly  18 months from start to finish. It had been tough with numerous hospital visits with various infections; sepsis, meningitis, cellulitis which nearly lead to my arm being amputated and two spinal fractures. But I had to get through it, and now the marathon training could begin.

I printed off my plan, stuck it the fridge and went out for my first run which was a gentle 3 miles. Bearing in mind I had got up to distances of over ten miles in previous training, my first 3 miles should have been a breeze.

Less than a mile in, I was feeling paralysed with self-doubt fear. I can’t possibly run 26 miles, I can barely run one. I can’t do it. No way. Fear, shock, horror, reality kicking in at what I’d signed myself up for.

Re-thinking my strategy.

Having strict words with myself…

Very simplistically putting it as marathon training is long and arduous…..three miles became ten….thirteen, thirteen became twenty. Stick to the plan, and you’ll get there I’d say to myself one moment at a time. One foot in front of the other. And then I was there at the start line of the London Marathon…

From cancer treatment to running marathons

Connect with @fizzysnood in the War On Cancer app and read more about her story as a breast cancer survivor.

Read other War On Cancer articles here:

Dating after cancer

Why are we not talking about prostate cancer?

Coping with a cancer diagnosis 

Does sugar feed cancer?

Dealing with cancer 

Cancer from a loved one’s perspective 

Nutrition and cancer

Corona/Covid19 and cancer

Sara, based in the UK, all-round wearer of crazy headgear and breast cancer survivor.

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