Why I run.
It was in January 2014, I decided to get into running and obstacle running. Before that I had no interest in it all. My fitness consisted of long stints on the cross trainer and walking on the treadmill, before hitting the shower at the gym. I had ticked the box of being a “gym member”.
However, between 2010 – 2014 a lot happened that changed my perspective about life and got me into running. 2010 started off great, I got married in March and then went of Honeymoon. Then in June 2010 my mother in law was diagnosed with non–hodgkins lymphoma cancer. We then spent the next 4 years in and out of hospital whilst she had 22 rounds of chemo and a bone marrow transplant. During that time her mum died during an operation, my father in law died of a heart attack and our home flooded losing everything. It was tough and you’re probably thinking, what this has got to do with running. Everything that happened is what inspired me to run and changed my life.
Spending a significant amount of time in the hospital made me realise what someone with cancer goes through. The physical and mental strain on the body with treatment. The loss of physical activity, resulting in losing muscle and being unable to walk because you’re confined to a bed. Not only this but the financial struggles of not being able to work. This means you can’t afford to pay the £10 a day to watch TV in hospital or buy your favourite toiletries or books. Money is going on paying bills, paying for the car parks and trying to afford food to eat.
I started running because I wanted to make a difference to the people who were living with cancer on a daily basis. Obviously, I can’t cure it but I knew there was a way to make treatment time better than it was.
My first goal, was to raise enough money to pay for 11 TV and DVD players for the private rooms on the cancer ward in Northampton General Hospital. The cost to the patient was £10 a day or £35 a week. Even seeing the TV’s sent my husband Lee and I off on a rant about it. Whilst, we would “smuggle a TV” into the hospital, we are fully aware this was not a solution for other patients.
So to raise money I had to do something extreme. I signed up to Tough Mudder. All I knew of it was it's an obstacle run, I knew it was tough as my brother had done it a year before and had come home with stitches in his hand. When I told people they laughed. No one thought I could do it and openly told me that. The comments; “You’re too clean for that, you’re too thin for that, you’re not strong enough” etc, etc. I think people sponsored me, purely on the basis that they thought that I had lost the plot rather than I would actually complete it. Deep down I didn’t think I would either but it wound me up that people thought I couldn’t, which made me even more determined to do it.
So, I began running and strength training. At first it nearly killed me but from the January 2014 to July 2014, I fell in love. I fell in love with getting fitter and stronger. I loved that feeling of making progress, which made me realise I could push my body even more to achieve great things. All of a sudden I had become a runner and it felt amazing!
When the day for Tough Mudder arrived and I turned up at the event village I thought what the actual hell am I doing. Even though I was freaking out inside I had to remind myself why I was there. This was not about me. I had to swallow down that fear of being scared of the obstacles. I had to continually remember when I felt like backing out, that the people I was running for was scared whether they were going to live. The water ones, especially artic enema ruined me. I had a panic attack because of my fear of deep water and I cried, but at the back of my mind I remembered why I was running and did it.
When I crossed the finish line, it was hands down the best achievement of life. I knew that the TV and DVD would be purchased to help people in some small way during treatment. I remember calling my mother in law, with her telling me she was proud of me. I told her, when I was doing this I thought if you can take the endless rounds of chemotherapy, injections and not being able to walk then I have no excuse.
Since that day, I continue to run and I continue to fundraise through running. After I raised the money for the 11 TV and DVD players, it inspired my husband and I to set up our own charity The Lewis Foundation (www.thelewisfoundation.co.uk).
Every Friday night we go into our local cancer ward and hand out free gift bags to adults with cancer to cheer people up during treatment and give them something nice to look forward to. The gift bags range from portable radios, magazines, pamper kits and craft packs. The aim is to relieve the physical, financial and emotional burden we experienced and watched others experience.
The majority of our fundraising for these packs is through running. I do sometimes run solo, but now I encourage people of all abilities within our community to get involved. Me running, has inspired others to try running and by doing so they are making a difference to others.
This year my own personal challenge is to run 1000 miles, to fundraise for gift packs because I feel I can use running to help others. I continue to encourage and ask others to get involved in other runs that are taking place.
Running changed my life. It made me more confident about myself, realise what the body is truly capable of and is a source to de-stress.
Whilst I am healthy enough to run, I will continue to do so to help others. As I know the people I see on a weekly basis would love to be in a position that they could get out and about.
The Lewis Foundation
Providing comfort and happiness to Cancer Patients in Northampton.
Registered charity number: 1166405