Guts and determination aren’t only needed by those battling the chronic illness cystic fibrosis (CF)*, they’re also required by our incredible fund raisers. My wife is one of them…
Last Sunday, my wife Katie took part in the London Parks Half Marathon as part of over 40 runners raising money for CF, which included three CFers. Unfortunately, she had injured her knee back in July and more recently badly damaged her groin during a 10 mile run in Southend-on-Sea. Much to her annoyance, Katie could hardly lift her leg let alone jog. Would she have to pull out? Could she bear running with such considerable pain?
Katie has a strong running style, especially when compared to me. If we were cars, she would be a Ferrari California and I would be the Alfa Romeo 1900 rust bucket that was recently discovered in a Boston garage in a state of disrepair. That Alfa, like me and my lungs, with a wash can look regal on the outside but is a mess under the bonnet!
When Katie is in full flow she is almost effortless – like a gazelle – and not really out of puff whereas any exercise I undertake these days with my 43 year old CF lungs is akin to flogging a dead horse.
In the end, Katie decided to go for it.
My seven year-old son Felix and I, decked out in CF t-shirts and holding balloons and the banner ‘CF: A fight we must win‘, were there to support Katie for as long as she could run. We reckoned that the section of the race on Westminster Bridge would be a good vantage point to congratulate her on her brave endeavors.
Using an app on my phone we could track her progress and judge where she was on the route and when she would appear at Westminster Bridge. Suddenly we could see her and she was looking out for us. I could spot the good luck card that Felix and I wrote for her which was securely placed in her running shorts. It was an emotional moment and after a long tearful hug between Katie and Felix we all huddled together as the racing throng passed by us.
I am deeply proud of Katie’s achievement. She knew that her groin injury would severely hamper her ability to run and yet she defied the pain to take part, not backing down from the challenge she had set herself. The deeply frustrating aspect is that she had built up good fitness prior to the injury so she knew that she could have run the required 13 miles in a competitive time.
As I’ve stated before in this blog and in my book ‘How have I cheated death?’, I’m thoroughly in awe of anyone undertaking fundraising activities. This is magnified when it will help my illness; raising much-needed money to make a tangible difference to future treatments, care and a hopeful cure. All my family and a lot of our friends have played their part over the years in this pursuit which creates a tight bond. As someone who’s never had one day of ‘normal health’, it’s wonderful for me to witness relatively healthy bodies being put to such good use.
However, I do admire and envy the marathon runners in equal measure. It’s galling to watch people seamlessly run such distances, some I suspect with little preparation; when on some days, getting up a flight of stairs can seem formidable for me and others like me.
Standing on that bridge was a seminal moment – a family of three coming together to defy CF. Katie through her running to raise money for valuable cure-bringing funds, me with my daily medical diligence and sharing my survival story and Felix helping to de-mystify the condition for all of us with his sunny disposition and contagious happiness.
In a supposedly ‘fun’ race where there are no real winners and losers, it’s the taking part that counts. Katie took part and her brave efforts and associated money raised most definitely counted. Although every step last Sunday was painful, she made great strides for CF.
In other news: I want to congratulate my wonderful twin brother Jez on his recent marriage to the lovely Julie – I wish you all the health and happiness in the world!
I will keep you posted on my life-affirming moments, trials and tribulations as and when they happen. Please keep reading and sharing my blog and sign-up (on the right hand side tab) if you have not already done so.
Yours cup half full.
Tim Wotton (CF author)
Your help please:
You can still donate for Katie here.
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* Cystic Fibrosis is one of the UK’s most common life threatening inherited diseases, affecting over 10,000 people. The condition affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food. Each week, five babies are born with the condition, however, each week, three young lives are also lost to it. There is currently no cure for CF. However, existing gene therapy trials in the UK are bringing people with the illness closer to a form of cure but CF is not that well known and would benefit from more public donations. For more information and to find out more view the CF Trust Website.