My race for life

I blame my friend Rache.

Rache likes to stand out in a crowd

If there’s an occasion that requires us to dress up and look a little bit stupid, then she is at the front of the queue dragging us with her.

When I discovered I had cancer a few months ago, it was Rache’s idea that a group of friends do the Race for Life and that they do it for me. I was honoured and signed up too.

Rache suggested that we wear the dodgy outfits that we had for an 1980s themed weekend away last year. That’s how we ended up at Cheltenham Race Course early on a Sunday morning wearing bright pink tutus and matching legwarmers.

Relax – it’s only 5K

I’d hoped to be able to walk the course but as the event got nearer it was clear that just turning up was going to be a major achievement. The last round of chemo has hit me hard. As well as being tired and in constant pain, I’ve also been feeling sick and very dizzy. It’s taken until now for me to feel half way human.

Even so by the time we walked from the car to the starting line my legs hurt and I was totally out of breath.

It was all very different not too long ago. Before this cancer nightmare I’d do an hour or two of exercise every day. I was so fit that three years ago I ran the same 5K Race for Life in just over thirty minutes.

Doesn’t everyone dress like this on a Sunday?!

As everyone lined up for the race this year I have to admit I was quite jealous.

When my friends set off, I sat down at the side of the race track. I watched as thousands of women in pink snaked their way around the beautiful landscaped course. This event was for Cancer Research and my team managed to raise loads of money. I even persuaded some people to sponsor me just to turn up.

All the girls though did complete the course. I joined the them right at the very very end and together we all crossed the finishing line. I may not have walked far yesterday but I was so exhausted that when I got home I went to bed still wearing the whole outfit and slept for several hours

But I’m very happy that I went along. Plenty of people were taking part in memory of loved ones who’ve died from cancer.

Being there with friends reminded me of just how incredibly lucky I am to have beaten the disease. To be able to actually see them doing the race for me.

My friends had my name on their backs

Afterwards we looked through our photos. There were some shockers of me in silly poses. I asked Rache not to put the really awful ones on Facebook.

“Of course they’re all going up,” she told me. “But I’m ill,” I joked with her. “Yes you had cancer. Had, as in the past tense.”

Brilliant, I’m now well enough to be totally embarrassed by my friends.

It made me realise after all what I’ve been through that is a pretty good feeling. Even though I’d still prefer that those photos never see the light of day!

Rache and Claire with their Race for Life medals

A bit of pain is no bad thing

I’m feeling much more like me, it’s as if I’m finally waking up from a long nightmare.

Very slowly, I’m getting better. I still sleep plenty but the glimpses of normal life are starting to join up.

It’s strange to have days stretching out in front of me with a whole load of nothing to do.

Before being diagnosed with cancer I packed so much into my already hectic life in London. Now my pace has slooooowed right down.

I’m still too weak to do many things. I can’t walk very far, it’s impossible for me to stand up long enough to cook a meal and I’m too tired to even watch daytime TV.

As for lifting something heavy, like say a kettle, forget it.

Luckily I’m being looked after by my parents who live in the countryside. I’m back in the place where I grew up and I’m sure this is helping with my recovery.

These days I spend great big chunks of time in bed just staring into space. My view of the world is a massive field that leads to a wooded escarpment.

Not long after I came out of hospital, I watched as the light faded from the warm evening sky. Under the cover of dusk, small black objects began to dart around.

A pair of bats seemed to dance outside the window. The light from my bedroom had apparently attracted a feast of moths.

While the bats moved just slightly too fast, making you doubt what you’d seen, the next wildlife surprise was not so speedy.

Sauntering across the field a few days later were four roe deer. The young animals didn’t seem to care who saw them. But then we are in the middle of nowhere.

When the small deer got to the hedge at the edge of the grass, one by one they leapt about six foot into the air and disappeared into the next field.

I’m glad to have distractions like these as last week was awful. Horrendous, in fact.

Since the operation the pain has been bad but bearable. I haven’t been in agony. But that’s all changed.

Intense pain has become a close friend of mine. Day or night, it has wanted to hang out with me.

It has an unpredictable personality. It can be stabbing, shooting or squeezing with a vice like grip. You think you’ve got it under control and then it pops up in a different place.

I knew this was going to be a painful few months but I didn’t realise that second time round the cancer treatment would hurt so much.

It’s thanks to actual real friends that I’ve manage to beat the worst of the pain.

A couple of them suggested things to try, the GP agreed and so another friend drove around late night chemists to get the prescriptions for me.

I’m still in some discomfort. But compared to how terrible it was, it’s such a relief to once again only have to deal with good old fashioned low level pain.

That’s something I can easily cope with.