On Sunday morning I subjected my wife to a whinge of the highest order. My complaint? The fact that I had to be up at 7am on a SUNDAY morning, to drive to Plymouth, to host a Race for Life event on behalf of Cancer Research UK, like I had done the weekend before in Exeter.
My main complaints were based around the time I had to get up and the fact that I had to drive all the way to Plymouth for the event. However, I had a humbling experience that day which has totally changed the way I feel about these types of events.
It’s an honour
Now, don’t get me wrong, I do genuinely enjoy hosting these events. It’s quite an honour to be asked to host a Race for Life event; standing on the stage in front of thousands of women who are all there to run and raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK. This year, I’ve been hosting the “Pretty Muddy” versions, which is where the ladies run around an assault course, covered in mud. It’s brilliant!
My job is to get the participants, roughly 300 at a time, in to the warm-up area and talk to them for around 15 minutes before they start the run, giving them all the information they need and to really get them fired up for the run. I go through the health & safety stuff, information about the event, reasons they’re there today, what their money will be spent on, etc. I also sometime interview members of the crowd about their experience with Cancer.
It was during one of these sessions that my selfishness was thrown back in my face, and deservedly so. The name of the lady escapes me right now and I can only put this down to having an awful memory and the fact that I was mesmerised by her story. For arguments sake, let’s call her Claire. I asked the gathering of ladies if anyone had a story about cancer they’d like to share with the audience. Claire was one of the brave souls that day who stepped forward to share hers.
To summarise; Claire had had breast cancer a couple of years ago. She’d had this treated and survived, which was fantastic news (Claire, of course, told this story with much more detail and from her own perspective and had the crowd spellbound). It was when she attended one of her regular check ups, post-treatment, that they discovered that the cancer had spread; this time in to her brain. I believe Claire went on to have 14 intensive weeks of chemotherapy treatment for her brain tumour and… she was stood there in front of the audience that day, telling us her incredible story with a lump in her throat and a message of thanks to all of the ladies involved.
I hugged Claire as she received the biggest round of applause of the day. Claire than set off with all the other ladies and as far as I am aware, completed Plymouth’s Pretty Muddy. I on the other hand had a massive reality check. It was during this that I recalled my actions of earlier that day; this is possibly why I have forgotten her name, because as she was talking, I remembered my conversation with my wife earlier that day. Waking up complaining, stomping about the house, wishing I had the day off… what an absolute idiot! Claire probably woke up that morning, happy to be alive, happy that she was going to run around Plymouth’s central park and help raise money so that other’s may also get treatment for their cancers too.
Some perspective please
That was a reality check for me. I’m a fairly positive person, I don’t often get down because life has been pretty good to me. Realising that I complain about these things (like most of us do, let’s be honest) will hopefully now stick with me and I’ll think again before getting upset about the thoughtless hardships (!) I have in my life. Claire said she was a fit and healthy person before her first bout of Cancer. She never smoked and drank in moderation like most of us might. Her point? Cancer doesn’t have any morals, it doesn’t care (or so it seems) if you’ve been good or bad.
So, the next time I begin to think that my life is a little bit difficult or that it seems ‘unfair’ that I have to work that day, I’m going to remember Claire.