This run is for you Deborah James,@bowelbabe

Today, I ran 5kms – my usual route pre-cancer, but my challenging route post-cancer. As I ran, I listened to Deborah’s last You, Me & the Big C podcast. I usually stop at the bottom of the hill, but today the hill is for you!

I discovered this podcast when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in December 2020 and I listened to many of the episodes. This time I ran and balled my way through Knole Park. The last few days have been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. I have followed Deborah on social media for a while now and reading her post on Monday – although I knew it was coming, she has had a really rough couple of months – I was still shocked and upset.

The inspiration

When I went through treatment, I found her to be a huge inspiration that you can face this disease head on, take all that it will throw at you and stand up and say “Screw you, Cancer!” What she really helped me with was the fear of recurrence. All the way through my cancer treatment I have been petrified of recurrence. As I got to each stage of the treatment, I would tell my doctors I was following a “scorched earth policy”, as I can’t do this again, and in following this approach I hope that I won’t have to.

Genetic link

When my younger sister was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, it became apparent that there was a genetic link. Now recurrence was even more likely, but Deborah’s approach of hitting it all head on has encouraged me to do so too. Cancer doesn’t define you – it just defines a path you need to take. What you do from there is entirely up to you.

Cancer has changed me in so many ways and inspired me to take charge of my life. The fear of failure is diminished. I started Pastiche Bags while on treatment to help others like me not feel so alone when we face our chemo journey. It sustained me through treatment and it will give back to others. Deborah’s call is for us all to buy her a drink on her way out. My bags will not have anywhere near the impact her fund will have, but with each bag sold another drink will be bought for someone like her, and that’s progress.

Thank you, Deborah, your spirit will live on!