Two years after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Jackie Scully is embarking on a new challenge: training for the London Marathon.
Two years ago, I thought running for a bus was a workout (and given my level of fitness, I guess it really was).
It makes me smile then that I’m now at the beginning of what is, for me, the ultimate workout – 16 weeks of London Marathon training.
There’s one big difference between the person I was two years ago and the person I am today (if we ignore the superglued stomach, the tummy fat-filled right boob and the fluffy chemo hair).
Two years ago, I didn’t look after myself. I thought the sign of a good person was someone who gave so much of herself that she didn’t have anything left to give.
Two years ago, I was seriously ill. I just didn’t know it.
Giving something back
I now put my health first. And, a big part of that involves squeezing myself into lycra at every available opportunity.
It’s not a pretty sight. Major hip surgery in my twenties means I have a left hip full of metal (and a right hip on the suspect list), so I have a funny running style. I would give Darth Vader a run for his money with my current breathing problems. And breast cancer has certainly made its mark on my rather bionic body.
But when I am out in the fresh air (as much as London air is ever fresh) putting one foot in front of the other and just hoping I will come back in one piece, I understand what it is to be alive.
I have Breast Cancer Care to thank for getting me out of bed during treatment and into the park. After breast cancer surgery – which involved removing my tummy fat for reconstruction – getting to the lamppost across the street was a struggle. I never thought I would make it up the road, let alone over the finish line of my first ever 10k (which I did just days before my last chemo).
But the volunteers and the team at Breast Cancer Care supported me so much during treatment that I wanted to do something to give back to them and show them just how much they mean to me.
That’s why my bald head, PICC line, acute oncology card and chemo-fuelled body hit the London streets in July 2014. And that’s why I’m going back – over a much longer distance admittedly – in April 2016.
My biggest fitness test
I know the next four months will test me to the limit – if I even make the starting line. I know that I am one bad run away from not being able to run again. But I also know that, across the country, thousands of men and women are able to face the long road of cancer treatment because they have Breast Cancer Care by their side. And it’s that thought that will keep me moving forward even if my legs and lungs have other ideas.
So whether you’re going through treatment, moving forward or simply trying to keep a 2016 fitness resolution, I urge you to move just a little bit more than you thought possible yesterday. It might be to the end of the ward after surgery, or up the stairs after chemo. It might be to the end of the road or up the hill near your house.
However far, however fast (and, trust me, fast is not a word I understand), I hope you will find a distance that makes you smile.
The secret? Just make a start and see where it takes you.
Jackie is raising money for Breast Cancer Care. Help her make every step count by contributing just a few pounds.
If Jackie’s story has encouraged you to dust off your trainers, why not find a sporting challenge to inspire you?