The Run 40 for Pancreatic Cancer UK challenge has officially finished! My Just Giving page is still up here if you are yet to donate and would like to. I thought I’d write some reflections now that the challenge is over and use all of the positive adjectives to describe the amazing, fantastic, incredible, awesome, wonderful, tremendous amount of support that the campaign received.
As I write this, the campaign is on £6,653. The original goal of the campaign was £250. I hoped to raise more than that original goal, but I never imagined it would get as high as it is now. I’ve seen so many names in the donations that I recognise from various times throughout my life; people in my year at school, people I used to work with, friends of friends I have only met a couple of times. There have also been an astonishing amount of donations from names I don’t recognise and many from the secret ‘anonymous’ society. My siblings have been touched by some of the donations they have seen from their old colleagues and beyond. It is truly amazing how far it seemed to reach and how generous everyone has been. Thank you so much for all the donations and for making it feel so special for me.
The support was so great that I was contacted by the local paper, The Chronicle Series, who wanted to write an article about it. Unfortunately, I never saw that article come to fruition and have not heard from the journalist who contacted me. I haven’t chased him either; I just figured it would come out eventually in the month of February. It is perhaps too late to expect to see anything now, and I fear I may never get my newspaper clipping to frame and put on the wall… I’ll have to think of another scheme now, damn it.
A local clothes shop called Wall Street kindly put up information about the campaign in their window. They also made flyers which they were putting in shoppers’ bags. This was all done without any prompting from us. The owner asked my mum if it would be useful, and then they did all of the work to create, print and distribute the materials. Every time I walk past the shop, I see my face in the window, and I awkwardly try not to look for too long. It feels like I’m being vain just by doing so, which is probably an incredibly strange reaction to the situation. That was another incredible gesture, though, and one that my mum especially appreciated. She has been shopping there for years and was very touched that they were willing to do this for her, as am I.
The most donations came after the link was shared in a few local Facebook groups by my friends. This sparked a chain reaction of donations and well-wishing messages. I felt like a celebrity as my phone ‘blew up’ with notifications from Just-Giving. For 24 hours, it barely stopped flashing, and the total amount just kept creeping higher and higher. The only person managing to check the donation amounts quicker than my phone could be notified was my mum, who sat reading every donation, every message, and puzzling over every anonymous; she has been absolutely obsessed. I think she could reel off every name and comment by memory now.
On a more general note, the campaign really helped to focus me throughout February. I was always looking towards the next run, planning a new route, fighting harder to get out of bed each day and get out running. I may have underestimated just how much it did for my motivation last month, and it is now only becoming clear as I am in March and struggling to hit the same level. Even during the storms, I managed to get out and run, no matter how little I wanted to. I did also get fortunate with the chemotherapy cycles for most of February. It was only towards the end that I really struggled to get out running because of the chemotherapy. Luckily, I had already completed the distance by this point and was only aiming for more for my own ego. I wanted to get the total to 60 miles, but I only managed 53.64. This was mainly down to a bad final week where I struggled to do anything; the 2 runs I did manage were some of the hardest I remember in my life. On my final run in February, a 5K with my sister Josie, I had to walk about 3 times and felt like I was going to pass out at one point. I was not in good shape from the chemotherapy. Luckily, I ran yesterday, and I seem to have recovered from the worst of it now, but it has taken a long time compared to my ‘normal’ cycle.
Now that the campaign is over, I need to find something else to keep me going. If you read this blog regularly, you likely know that this is a tough week for me. Tomorrow I will receive the results from the CT scan I had on Monday. It will be the first update I have had on the tumour since November, and when I find out if the chemotherapy is working at all, and to what extent. My tumour is locally advanced, meaning it has not spread outside of the pancreas, but it has spread to a major artery. As a result, I cannot undergo surgery. Without surgery, I can’t be cured of the cancer, and it will kill me. Luckily for me, I am very young to have pancreatic cancer. You may be wondering why I used the word ‘lucky’ in that sentence… My youth and fitness mean that my body can take a lot of punishment and still recover relatively quickly. My oncologist warned me that there may be a lot of steps to take to get the tumour in a place where they can do surgery, but that I should be glad that those steps are available to me. Many others are diagnosed at a point where nothing can be done or are at an age where they are too vulnerable to have the full extent of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, nano-knife, and whatever other techniques are required. My age doesn’t guarantee me anything, though. I still may have a long way to go to get surgery, and it may never get to a place where it is possible. Tomorrow, I’ll discuss how the tumour has responded to chemotherapy and the next steps with the oncology team.
So as you can imagine, this isn’t a great week for me to understand how I am feeling about things. I am focusing on getting through tomorrow, then I can try and enjoy my birthday on Saturday (despite being in the hospital for chemotherapy). Next week I can decide what big schemes will keep me busy for the next few months until I finish chemotherapy in May (assuming the scan doesn’t change the treatment plan entirely). I’m hoping to get some more writing work for Pancreatic Cancer Action, and maybe some other charities/organisations, but we’ll see. I’ve also started to work on a few short stories and a book, but the progress on them is slow. I still struggle to actually sit down and just write. The blog has more direct purpose as I write it and know that I will upload it for consumption. I’m still not in a place where I feel any of the short stories, or potentially even my book, is for a bigger ‘purpose’. If I knew it would be published and that people would be interested in it, I may feel more motivated to do large writing sessions. Unfortunately, I haven’t convinced myself that any of it is for a purpose right now. I know that the right mindset is not to do it for any purpose, but just do it because I enjoy writing, which I do. I’m still new to writing, though, and it is easier to write things where you get quick and direct feedback from people reading. It’s all a process and I’m getting somewhere with it, I hope.
One last thank you to everyone who has donated and followed the progress on the Just Giving page. If there is anyone else you think may donate, please share the link with them. It’ll be open for a few more weeks yet! Today’s song is appropriately titled ‘Endorphins’ as that’s the best part of exercising – those juicy endorphins. The song also has quite a mix of sombre sounding lyrics whilst also being somewhat upbeat, a nice analogy of how my mood seems to be this week.