“Everybody deserves the next day”
by Neil Howie
This year will be different you say to yourself on January 1st, though you wake up each day feeling sore. You visit the doctor, she says they need to run tests. You wait, then the day before you start back at work ten days later, you visit again, scared in case they do find something. Within five minutes of the tests you are told you have a large tumour. Then you are really scared…
January 2014 started out like that for me. On my birthday a week after the test I went into hospital and had major surgery. The following month when the biopsy results came back I was told I had Stage III bowel cancer. For the next six months I went through chemotherapy, spending 3 days in hospital, recovering for 10 days and then back in, twelve times.
During this time I also realised how fortunate I was, I had the support of my wife and family, as well as friends. Given I was going through this 2200 km from my home city in a country where I don’t speak the language this was extremely important.
In April, during the treatment, I watched the London Marathon, and decided that if I recovered from this episode in my life I would run this race the following year, on 26 April 2015. Not having done any running for seven years, this would be a challenge for me if I was healthy. Chemotherapy is not nice and at first this was a way of staying positive and thinking of what could be. I spoke to friends and they encouraged me to keep thinking positively and also what a great goal this was and together we started to plan it as a way to help charities, such as EuropaColon that help so many with bowel cancer.
At the end of August the results following the chemotherapy came back as clear, so the return to a normal life could begin. I started work again, having been off for nearly seven months. I also started running again, which at first meant running for only 5 minutes very slowly (with very little feeling in my feet) and gradually building up distance and speed. I also started fundraising for bowel cancer charities, to support those not as fortunate as me.
By December I had held many charity events; bar nights, quiz nights, gala dinners and dinners with entertainment. These events had raised several thousand Euros for bowel cancer charities and guaranteed my place in the London Marathon. I was also back in to running again, and having completed a half marathon at Ljubljana (just) in October I was now able to cover 21 km much better by the end of the year.
On my birthday in 2014, at the age of 45, I was in hospital preparing for major surgery with so many fears for my future going through my mind. One year later I ran a training run of 15 km as part of my preparation for the forthcoming London Marathon.
Life is not always easy, and choices, even daunting ones can come upon us all, at any time of our life. Staying positive is something we all need to be, from inside ourselves and with help from family and friends. EuropaColon is a charity trying to help those suffering from bowel cancer to ensure they can have that next day and can stay positive.
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