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Running for Lisa’s life: Why we’re all doing a marathon or two

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Image: The 2010 Asics London 10k Run

The runners: (l-r) Simon, me, James and Lisa

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ve got a fantastic bunch of friends, and we love each other dearly.

So when, one of our group, Lisa, discovered she had thyroid cancer earlier this year, it hit us all like a warp-speed bowling ball at an unsuspecting stack of pins.

Lisa treats her body like a temple. She’s a fitness addict and personal trainer, who spends most of her life in the gym, whether it’s training herself or helping others achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Lisa and my other friend James had got together and decided to launch a fundraising campaign for Children with Leukaemia — planning to run both the London Marathon in April and the New York Marathon in November. At the time of the London one, they’d raised a staggering £3000.

Lisa had found a lump in her neck in February and was in the middle of a barrage of blood tests and biopsies to find out the cause. But being the trooper she is, she pushed it to the back of her mind as she went into her final phase of training for the event, which she finished in a very respectable 4h 59m.

Here she is, fresh as a daisy at about mile 20:

Four weeks later, she was in hospital having the right side of her thyroid taken out — her biopsies had detected abnormal cells.

The irony was worthy of an Alanis Morissette lyric. She’d run the Marathon to raise money for cancer — with cancer.

To say this was a smack in the face is an understatement. Lisa dedicates her life to the pursuit of fitness and health, both in herself and in others. Can you imagine how it feels to have the body you’ve worked so hard to take care of and keep healthy, suddenly go renegade on you?  It’s like the ultimate betrayal.

Lisa’s also self-employed, and couldn’t work for her entire recovery period — ergo, the cancer screwed not only her health, but her income as well.

And it didn’t stop there. Six weeks after her first operation, she was back in again to have the other side of her thyroid removed, after the tissue from the first op showed not one, but two different types of cancer.  Six weeks after this, she underwent a week’s worth of radiotherapy treatment at the Royal Marsden, during which none of us could visit her. She also had to isolate herself for nearly a week after she was discharged, while the radioactive isotopes broke down enough to let her have human contact again.

A while ago I wrote about the reality of having HIV. I was with Lisa for most of her hospital appointments, and suddenly found out what it must have been like for my friends and family when I was diagnosed.

Here I was, shoe firmly on the other foot, being slapped around the chops by the harsh realities of cancer. This time it was me watching a friend go through something awful and knowing I could do fuck all to change the situation.

The people from Macmillan Cancer Support have been there for Lisa throughout, giving invaluable advice and support, and even arranging money to help cover the rent she could barely afford while she wasn’t working. In short — they’ve been a godsend.

Despite her (and our) joy that she’s finally in the clear, Lisa’s gutted she’s not able to run the NYC marathon. The hospital’s said it would be silly to put her body through a gruelling training programme and a 26.3 mile run when it’s still recovering from such an ordeal.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way. James is still running in New York, and is continuing to raise money for Children with Leukaemia. And swooping in to run in Lisa’s place is our dear friend Simon. He’s like the proverbial knight in shining armour (or in his case, glittering spandex *sniggers* *ducks*).

Not content with completing Berlin Marathon just a few short weeks ago, he’s decided to also run NYC for Macmillan in a show of support for Lisa, and, as he’s only just taken on the challenge, he’s got a way to go to hit his target.

Now, I’d like to think I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t ask for much. This isn’t one of those blogs that exists solely to flog a product or service, or gain marketing leads. But I’d like to ask something now.

Please sponsor Simon and James. The New York Marathon is less than two weeks away (November 7th). Their links are at the bottom of this post, and even a couple of quid would be brilliant (but save some cash for sponsoring me for London next year!)

Cancer can strike, anytime, anywhere, as my group of friends found out all too easily. People don’t start thinking about things like cancer till we, or someone we love, is staring it in the face.  But here’s a little factlet for you: Did you know that around 80% of postmortems reveal active cancer cells? Food for thought, no?

It’s charities like Macmillan and Children With Leukaemia that help people survive not just the physical, but the mental impact of the disease.

So next time you see someone huffing and puffing their way around the park, take a second to consider why they’re putting themselves through it. In most cases — as well as trying to better their distances or time — they’re probably also facing another challenge of raising £2k or some other massive amount for a worthwhile cause.

And as James said to me at the weekend: “Every time we runners get an email through saying we’ve been sponsored — even if it’s just a few quid — it feels like it’s all worthwhile. When you’re doing a 15 mile run in the freezing cold after a hard day at work, it’s so motivating and heartwarming.”

So come on, people, let’s all dig out a few quid to support those who are running for other people’s lives, eh?

Sponsor Simon for Macmillan Cancer Support
Sponsor James for Children with Leukaemia

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Written by guy_interrupted

October 25, 2010 at 7:31 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Brilliant Mr Johns; spot on, i think you summed up the insanity of the last 8 months very well indeed.

    Let’s hope it helps raise lots of lovely funds to support all those people (and their supporters) who have to survive cancer in all its various forms.



    October 25, 2010 at 8:30 pm

  2. Glad she is okay. I think most people have been affected by cancer – either directly or know someone that has. My Mum had the same form of cancer as your friend, and it was caught very early. At the same time my Nan had stomach cancer. Was a pretty shit time, but thankfully both got through the other side. I wish both your friends luck for the NY marathon and the same to you for the London next year. xx

    Trevor Cosson

    October 25, 2010 at 8:36 pm

  3. Well written Kristian. Yes these marathons are def no easy task to complete.

    All the support myself and James can get will make us run that bit faster but more importantly will make other peoples lives who are dealing with Cancer, just that bit better. That Is what is driving both myself and James to do these crazy Marathons.

    Thank you so much in advance if you are able to support us.

    Simon Gill

    October 26, 2010 at 7:55 am

  4. Once again a beautiful and heartwarming blog showing the caring and sensitive side to your personality, I am proud to call you my Son! I shall of course be making a donation, not only for Lisa, but also for your Cousin Nancy who has recently undergone a double mastectomy and your Uncle who has not only had the same cancer as Lisa, but also cancer of the lung, lymph glands, tonsils and has beaten them all!! Love Mum xx


    October 26, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    • Can I just say that this blog has allowed complete strangers like myself to see what an incredible son you have. And your comment made me blub! Again. Not cool in an open plan office! Thanks for that. I had no idea that cancer was so prolific. I have had family members unfortunately succumb to the disease, but they were from different generations. Reading this has really been an eye opener for me.


      October 26, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    • how lovely xxxxxxxx

      tracey hudson

      October 27, 2010 at 6:05 am

  5. Im glad your friend came out the other side! Cancer hits everyone in some way. I had a double whammy. My mum has stage 4 lymphoma, unfortunately not caughtin time and is managing symptoms to improve quality of life, one of my best friends has also just been diagnosed.
    I know how you feel to feel a little helpless but when you run or do something its like your helping and in someway not so helpless… consider yourselves sponsored (well when payday hits)

    Suzanne E

    October 26, 2010 at 12:24 pm

  6. wow, you are the best friends a girl/person could ask for. sending positive vibes for her and hoping the other family members and friends ont the replies get good results too in their follow up.
    my wife was diagnosed with a rare myxoid liposarcoma tumour in her inner right thigh while we were on a working holiday in oz. 2 years on and praying tomo goes wellxx
    will share this on my facebook and hope it inspires others.
    keep supporting her, being their for her guys…friends like you are hard to find xxx

    lisa…keep going…you have and can continue to fight this with friends like this that love you so much with you at your side xxxx


    October 26, 2010 at 2:09 pm

  7. Kristian, thank you so much for this blog. As you can imagine it is really hard for Lisa’s family up North to know that she is going through this without us close by – to be there for her. However, we also know that this is nothing compared to what she has gone through. It helps us to know that she has such wonderful friends who are there for her when she needs them most. Friends she can rely on in both the good times and the bad. From all of her family here in Lancashire thank you for being there and thank you for being ‘you’!

    Amanda (Lisa's sister)

    October 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

  8. I’m really happy to see your friend is doing better. I have gladly helped out both of your friends reach their goal. You guys are doing a great thing by running and raising money on behalf of others.


    October 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

  9. Cancer is such an evil disease. I’m in the same profession as Lisa so it’s almost a double blow as you feel almost hard done by as you take care of your body and feed it right etc and yet STILL you succumb to it. To have the added stress of loss of income is just awful. Lisa you’re a strong woman & we know you’ll come back even stronger than before from this xxx


    October 26, 2010 at 7:34 pm

  10. Wow this really got me! even though it’s me he’s talking about!

    I never really talked about my feelings much through the whole process. People said I was brave but I wasn’t, I was just doing what I knew to do – deal with it. People go through much worse than me – I was one of the lucky ones.

    Big thanks to my friends and family for being there for me, no matter what. And big hugs to all those who are or have been through something similar.

    Thanks to everyone for the support and I will be there with huge cheers for James and Simon when they run the NYC Marathon next week, (even though I will still be envious!).



    October 26, 2010 at 7:58 pm

  11. just a little note to thank u for all u and lisas friends did for her through the horrid time x with us bein here in burnley we couldnt be there in person to stand by her but she was constantly in our minds x i work on a hospital ward that deals with cancer every day but when its your own sister its so so different . u sent me txts keepin me up to date when she was in theatre and for that i will always be grateful. we r so happy she is on the right road now and hope others get some help by reading these msgs xxx thankyou again and i agree 100% with ur mums comment ….proud to call u her son xxxxxxxx

    tracey hudson

    October 27, 2010 at 6:05 am

  12. Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the images on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to find out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.

    Any feed-back would be greatly appreciated.

    buy coffee

    February 6, 2013 at 4:14 pm

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