The Cape, Park runs and battles

Today I’m typing away at 3300ft above the ground hurtling back towards home at 900km / hour.

Pete and I have had the most amazing few days in our beloved Cape Town. Out of all the travels I have been lucky enough to experience, CT is definitely one of my favourites! No passports, no visas, no holiday days wasted in a plane to get there and believe me the less time I spend in a plane the better! I am what you may call, not-a-good-flyer and by the look of Pete’s red hand and the embedded nail marks, he may possibly agree!

We stayed in Fish Hoek, a beautiful seaside village, overlooking the sea! Total bliss…. and you know how I feel about the sea.

View from our Fish Hoek home

View from our Fish Hoek home

The days consisted of beach walks, numerous scenic drives, a trip to a spa for a massage, afternoon high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel (a definite MUST if you find yourself in the Mother City), G’s & T’s or rather G’s and Dry Lemon on our balcony and loads of scrummy food (think I will be avoiding Megan for a VERY long while!

Me and Table Mountain

Me and Table Mountain

Pete at Kirstenbosch gardens

Pete at Kirstenbosch gardens

To be fair we tried to balance it all out with lots of walking and also did our first Park run outside our own hood! Fortunately those 5kms made up for all the bad things we ate………….. NOT!!!!

Fish Hoek Park run was rather scenic, neither of us managed a PB, despite the flat course – I blame the single track in parts, certainly not the extra kgs from the delicious food the day before and certainly not the stoppages for photo ops and scenery appreciation!

Cape Park Run1

I think the most unforgettable thing about it though, was the conversation I overheard while coming into the home straight, or rather home curve via a wooden bridge and over a few mini sand dunes (more like speed bumps) and to the left of the most stunning clump of wild flowers…..anyway, as I was hurtling past a startled pair of tweens – I like to think it was due to my powerful speed walking gait, but realistically it was probably the wheezing and bright red face courtesy of a badly timed hot flush and the 4 and 3/4 km I had just completed…

***OK the captain has cued the seat belt fastening sign due to some turbulence ahead, which is also my cue to reinforce those nail marks in Pete’s right hand……..excuse me for a moment….!***

AND I’m back! Don’t you hate it when there’s always that one passenger that screams………?

Ok so where was I…. oh yes……so there we were, me the wheezing red glowing beacon and the two tweens…. the girl tween says to the boy tween, “oh my gosh look at my Dad, he’s running” to which the boy tween responds dryly as only a boy tween can do, ” duh isn’t that what hez suppozed to do – isn’t your dad like a serious runner or sumthing”. I must say my first thought was: duh dude clearly he’s not a great runner if he was only slightly ahead of me, a walker, in the bottom end of the field! But at the same time, somewhere way in the back of my mind, I was a bit confused by the awe and something very close to pride in her voice. CLEARLY the poor chap was a reformed couch potato on his journey to complete his first ever run – Ag shame man how sweet is that I thought – in a tone only a veteran of 8 park runs could muster.

Once again my focus returned to the path in front of me as I wondered where the heck this course finished – I very nearly missed the next part of the conversation…..

Tween Girl: “yes, but you don’t understand, he had a bad fall and shattered his knee, he didn’t think he could ever run again”.

Oh wow….did I feel reprimanded for my rather condescending thoughts!

Immediately I was reminded of how easily and how quickly assumptions about others are made. So often ready to accept our first impressions without ever really bothering to stop and check our own prejudices let alone the facts before cementing them as truths and moving on. Definitely without ever having even a clue as to what battles are being fought, won or lost daily.

I must say after that little lesson on appreciation, I finished my 5k’s with a smile on my bright red face!

Pete and I thought we would like to start our own Park run bucket list challenge….. to do as many different Park Runs as we can manage locally and hopefully internationally, at some point. So we shall be saving our pennies for the next trip…..

Cape Beach
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” Plato
“Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.”
― James Joyce
“You don’t win battles with hate. Anger and hate can make you brave, make you strong, but they also make you stupid. You end up tripping over your own two feet.” (Hadrian)”

“The battle you are going through is not fuelled by the words or actions of others; it is fuelled by the mind that gives it importance.”
― Shannon L. Alder

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques Yves Cousteau

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Intentions…

As I have mentioned many times before I have met the most phenomenal people along this unexpected journey of mine.  Many who had walked or were busy walking their own journeys – happy to chat and share advice and their own experiences….

I met Bronwyn via a Facebook message she sent Pete after she heard about my diagnosis. She had been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer,  had been clear for a year and was willing to chat to me if I wanted to …. I remember being a little nervous phoning her that afternoon, I have never been one for speaking to people I barely know, especially about things they may find difficult and personal. But I found myself 8 weeks from the end of chemo, feeling directionless and a bit overwhelmed.

I needn’t have worried – she was amazing – open and honest about her experiences and willing to share ….

I found her story compelling. She had initially been told rather insensitively by an Oncologist that her case was far too severe for her to even have chemo and that she only had a few months to live.

I was horrified!

She was matter of fact.

She even made me giggle when she said that she certainly wasn’t going to take THAT lying down ***her exact words may have been a little harsher than those 🙂

With the help of family she found an alternative treatment plan and had changed her lifestyle. We spoke for absolute ages about the things she had found that worked for lymph drainage, diet etc. She had done her homework and was knowledgeable about so many things. Even just on the phone her positive attitude, upbeat personality and determination were palpable and contagious. I felt energised just chatting to her!

She told me just how important support was from family and friends. She spoke at length about her incredible husband – something I could relate to 🙂 and her two little girls, which made up her life.

She took the time to send me info via email and checked up on me a few times after that…. And I honestly wish I had done the same…

But you know what happens, life gets busy, and months go by and intentions become just that, intentions…….

Yesterday Pete came home from work and I could immediately tell something was wrong…

He said he had seen a Facebook notification that Bronwyn had passed away that morning….

Bronwyn, you will never possibly know how much you helped me, someone you had never met. I am so sorry that we will never have that tea and catch up session that we spoke about.

My heart goes out to your husband and girls. I know you must have put up one hell of a fight

 

Rest in Peace.

 

I wanted to share the message she sent Pete cos it gives you a glimpse of the incredible woman who wrote it:

Hi Peter

I don’t know if you remember me but I was at school with you and Sally.   I have been watching your updates on Janine who is bravely battling breast cancer. I just wanted to give you some hope, I too have scars (although I wear them with pride now). I was diagnosed stage 4 last year in August and have been improving ever since. I have not had any traditional chemo treatments as have followed a natural route but I am aware of the mental and emotional battles that get fought on a daily basis. I have been clear for a year now and I just wanted to say that I think a positive attitude constitutes 90% of healing. Our minds are powerful healers. Your support of Janine is immeasurable and it takes a true man to stand up and be counted with the chips are down. I wish for your family a journey that brings you closer, makes you appreciate the things you didn’t before and brings joy when the world thinks you should be sad. I know Janine has a good support system in place but if you ever need to talk to a stranger who will just listen, please give her my number.

All the best to you both,

Bronwyn

 

Loss

 

“The strongest people are not those who show strength in front of us, but those who win battles we know nothing about”. Anon

 

“On the death of a friend, we should consider that the fates through confidence have devolved on us the task of a double living, that we have henceforth to fulfil the promise of our friend’s life also, in our own, to the world.” ― Henry David Thoreau

 

“I am always saddened by the death of a good person. It is from this sadness that a feeling of gratitude emerges. I feel honoured to have known them and blessed that their passing serves as a reminder to me that my time on this beautiful earth is limited and that I should seize the opportunity I have to forgive, share, explore, and love. I can think of no greater way to honour the deceased than to live this way.” ― Steve Maraboli

 

“You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?” ― Jeanette Winterson,

A perspective change

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So today’s one of those days, you know the ones I’m talking about, when you wonder whether the day should be significantly acknowledged or whether you should even bother getting out of bed….

But, I guess there is no way of getting away from it, today IS a significant day. It is exactly 365 days since my diagnosis.

When I look back on this week, a year ago, it all started rather innocently with a routine visit to my GP for my annual lady bits check-up and for her to just check on a lump which didn’t feel quite “right”……it ended not so innocently with mammograms, ultrasounds, biopsies and a trip back to her office for the not so good news….

I remember sitting in her rooms thinking quite calmly, that my life was over. I had lost my mom to cancer a few months after I turned 13, so in my mind was a child’s firmly fixed point of reference…  Was there any point to the surgery? Once they started cutting the cancer would spread, that was my complete and unequivocal thinking… why should I bother?

Then something changed… I remember driving home later in that same week from yet another scan or doc visit….  I had my radio on and was hearing about the horrific mini bus and truck accident on Fields Hill – 27 ordinary people with families and lives who were never going to make it home that evening….

It was as if the blur of the week came into crystal clear focus…… That could have been me – I could have been driving home from the GP giddy with the news that it wasn’t a lump I needed to be worried about, killed by a runaway truck…

Rather morbid I know – but certainly possible… and just the perspective that I needed….

Who the hell was I to even think of giving up?

Perspective has been my best friend and my worst enemy ever since. It has shown me that despite the physical and mental pain of this year, there has always been someone whose situation was far more dire than my own. And I’m not just saying that to be glib – I do know, because I have met some of them.

****BUT also really annoying when I just felt like having a feel sorry for myself kind of day…..!****

Today is another change of perspective for me. If I only look at this day from the perspective of ME and the cancer – and let’s be honest here, this year has most certainly been all about me and the cancer – it has been an awful, awful year.

But realistically I also know it hasn’t just been about me…and things have not been continuously awful.  It’s also been about the incredible people I have met, the friends and family who have taken me to treatments, made me laugh when I really didn’t have much to laugh about, sent messages, brought meals and quite often – another change of perspective….

And it has been about Pete…

Both of our lives changed a year ago.

So I would rather remember today as being the day I looked back and fully realised just what an amazing human being and husband he is; and just how lucky I have been to have him hold my hand along every step of this unexpected journey.

You are my everything Pete and I honestly can say that I love you more today than I could have even comprehended a year ago…

 

“Sometimes, reaching out and taking someone’s hand is the beginning of a journey. At other times, it is allowing another to take yours…” Vera Nazarain

 

“ We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know it for the first time.” TS Eliot

 

“Forget what hurt you but never what it taught you” Anon

 

“There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of

perception.” Aldous Huxley

 

“Often it isn’t the mountains ahead that wear you out, it’s the little pebble in your shoe.” Muhammad Ali

 

“When it seems like the sky is about to collapse, relax, that’s just the roof caving in.”Jarod Kintz