I hope this finds you well, and not too exhausted after all the sporty competition. I sit here, feeling humbled after enjoying a veritable feast of athletes and events at the Paralympics. I’ve sat, mostly on the sofa in front of the tele, aghast at the strength, power, determination that is so evident in the athletes. I’ve got new heros and heroines. Ellie Simpson, what a gem she is, as she oozes smiles and pride, with her team mate on her knees next to her. As she powered up and down the pool, not detouring from a perfectly straight line, it reminded me of the Blenheim open water swim. It got me thinking, that despite me having all four limbs and plenty of natural buoyancy, I’m not really a swimmer like Ellie. I have sat amazed at the rugby players, in their wheelchairs, impressed not only at the sturdy engineering of their chairs, but the skill, strength and tactics of their game. They are better at reverse parking and rugby than I will ever be. I thought back to the occasional moaning and whining that could be heard from the opposition and my teammates alike, after a few tough scrums, a big boshy tackle, and a face full of mud. I thought, we could learn a great deal from our paralympic rugby counterparts.
It seems the non-mechanical modifications to my Cycle have worked: thank you to the charming Prof Chalmers. A reduced dose has resulted in far fewer side effects for me, and although I am not exactly Olympic fit, I am getting on with what I can get on with. I keep on keeping on.
I was very fortunate to be able to go with Renee to the wheelchair basketball, and watch the Aussies beat the Yanks, and the Canadians beat Team GB. An amazing atmosphere and wonderful to be part of the hype. I’ve enjoyed the focus on “making the best of what we have got”, not dwelling on the bits missing, or the misfortune that caused the disability. Some useful lessons in life: be the best we can be, and keep playing until the final whistle goes. I hope that these games have changed attitudes of generations, young and old, attitudes about what it means to be disabled… the door has been opened for discussions on inclusivity and inclusion. I wonder how long it will be before we have able-bodied athletes in wheelchairs playing rugby and basketball. I wonder how long it will be before we have wheelchair archers competing alongside their able-bodied athletes. I wonder, tongue in cheek, how long it will be before we have wheelchair synchronised divers plummeting 10m from the high board, spinning and making and big splashes. I wonder if the playing field will be further levelled, and one day, if there will be a single competition of all athletes. Whatever, I think I am highly unlikely to qualify for Rio 2016.
I have managed to take another step backwards in my sporting career: I took part in the Dingle Half Marathon on 1st September, with Sue, my friend from my University rugby playing days. I still run like a rugby player, apparently. I set myself a new Personal Worst time for the run: 13.1miles took me over three hours. Sue’s swanky gadget did tell us that we’d done a couple of 11 minutes miles, which means we did some very slow miles too. I did the same run last year, five days after finishing my six months of adjuvant chemotherapy, it was a celebration for the end of chemo. When Sue and I signed up to do this year’s event, I didn’t realise it would be to “celebrate” the start of chemotherapy again. I didn’t realise a half marathon on chemo would feel like an Everest ascent. Our goal was to cross the finish line unaided. We did it. We have medals of our own, not gold, silver or bronze, but they are medals with masses of meaning. Thanks Sue for letting me slow you down, and for keeping me company and in good humour as we enjoyed the scenery of west Ireland. This event has a half, full and ultra marathons, and has been described as “the most beautiful marathon in the world”. It is truly stunning, and I totally recommend it for all…. In addition to burning a few calories, we got to sample some local stout, for medicinal purposes. If you would like to support our athleticism in this event, we are fundraising for Brain Tumour UK http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fundraiser-web/fundraiser/showFundraiserPage.action?userUrl=vixbigstuff.wordpress.co&faId=245110&isTeam=true
I’ve been enjoying some chilled time as well as the hype and adrenalin of sporting competition. I had a fantastic weekend with my Somerset-Mum Ruth and Dad John before a few days at the Penny Brohn Cancer Caring Centre, doing the “Bristol Approach” course with some fellow cancer patients and supporters. It’s a lovely place, where it’s safe to peel back the layers of psychological and emotional scarring associated with a life with cancer. We metaphorically pick at scabs and are workshopped, counselled and take time to think, and to stop thinking. I realise how difficult it is to calm my brain and meditate. I don’t think it’s anything physically to do with the visiting redcurrant in my brain…. I just find it very difficult to slow my brain down. One thing I have kept doing and reminding myself of, is chewing. We need to chew our food more. So when you next sit down to dine, or if you’re eating as you read this, please take time to chew and count thirty chews per mouthful before you swallow.
Lindy and Andy visited from the US with baby Florence, so I was able to meet the baby for whom I was held responsible. Florence, is of course delightful, she comes from very good stock, and was the calmest most smiley babe despite her jetlag, but just like all babes, here shit was as stinky as ever. She enjoyed doing some piano duets with me, and we took her for her first curry…
Kate and I went to BBC last night of the Proms in Hyde Park, along with thirty thousand others. We picnicked and sat and sung, foot tapping, and chilling, enjoying a diverse mix of classical and typical Proms music, and, the headliner, the Goddess Kylie Minogue. We are still spinning around, she was fantastic… I find it hard to believe that she’s three years older than me.
It seems there’s been some headlines that made the papers, and they got me most excited. I thought I should share them with you, and if anyone can help with the miracle cure for me, I am open to offers.
Life goes on past the closing ceremony, and I’m preparing for a couple more brain tumour awareness and fundraising events before the year is out. My friends and Alex, Greg and Matt, who make up Hertfordshire’s finest middle-aged boy band “Red Diesel” asked if they could do a charity gig for me…. and knowing that these fellas love the opportunity to get on stage and please the masses, rehearsals are underway. Please do come and join us and help us raise funds for Penny Brohn Cancer Caring Centre and Brain Tumour UK. It’s not exactly a Tom Jones-type concert, so please keep your undies on ladies. Click here.
Thanks to those of you who have already entered for VixHardTry, the Blenheim 2013 triathlon. I am glad I will have some companions to get in and out of my wetsuit with in June next year. At the end of October I will be taking part in the half marathon Run to the Beat with my neighbour Alison and some former rugby girls, if you want to join in, please do.
Thanks again for your continued support and positive vibes and well wishing. It helps me I promise. Although I do a good job of putting on a brave face, manning-up and stiff upper lipping it, it’s not all a stroll in the park.
For your viewing pleasure, here are a couple of YouTube recommendations:
If you are considering a new pet, or not, this is definitely worth a watch. It made me think, we remember how we are brought up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i5vRPKIS5UM
A bit of reading for you: “Before I go to Sleep” by S J Watson. Something outside my usual reading habits, but entirely gripping and worth the read.
Still living, loving and laughing
With big wet kisses and bone crunching hugs