I run in honour of DIDIThis is an excerpt from a letter I received from my friend, and former flatmate, Chris. It is about his wife's mother, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in May of 2010.
I was rubbish and never got back to you about Ali's ma, so here goes. You asked me at the time to drop you a note with "her story" to help encourage those of you who do such fantastic fund-raising work. Hopefully this might help.
Didi was diagnosed in mid May with non-Hodgkins lymphoma having felt pretty rubbish for about a month and by this point being pretty bright yellow. The tumour, so it turned out, was pressing against her bile duct and so it was actually that fact which initially did most damage- effectively she was being poisoned by her own body. Thankfully the surgeons were able to operate within a few days and release the pressure that was developing. It also had the immediate impact of allowing her to actually feel better than she had done in quite a while.
In fact, throughout her treatment it was actually not Didi but often Nic, Ali's Dad, who felt worse. He's 72 and suddenly realised his own mortality, despite being reasonably fit and healthy. But all of a sudden the thought had been put into his mind that he might lose the one individual in the world upon whom his life was constructed and grounded. Every time she went into hospital Nic cried his eyes out, terrified, wanting to help and be as much support as possible but not knowing how to. Didi was actually doing quite well. The week after her treatment was horrific, she couldn't eat and definitely couldn't do anything, but the week of her treatment itself she was often fairly buoyant at another session being ticked off. The steroids helped too!
At the end of August she was told that she had gone into remission. In a way, 3 months later, she's now struggling more than she was then, feeling that people have now forgotten about her, worrying that her hair's still very thin and just worried that it's all a lie, that it's still waiting out there, ready to get her again. She's still very frail but has just taken the huge step and admitted that she needs to keep talking to people, especially to seek trained advice. The fight goes on well past the treatment stage, but knowing that there are organisations out there means that she knows there are people who want to help her and who can and will. That means such a lot to her, to Nic and to everyone around her. So as you all go out to train, as you all go out to compete, as you all feel the pain and exhaustion afterwards please please remember that you're not just doing it to pay for chemicals, for research or for bed space. You're doing it to help rebuild lives, from the moment that someone first seeks help to the point where they finally feel like they're actually capable of standing alone again, strong in their knowledge that they're back.
So thank you.
Four years later, Didi remains in remission and is doing well.
Mile #17, I will be thinking of Didi and Nic, of Chris and Ali and their children... They have this time together because organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are there to support cancer patients and their families, and to fund life saving research.