On the 15th September 2017, my brave Mum, Penny Rowland, lost her battle with a Brain Tumour. Nothing can ever prepare you for watching the person who gave you life lose theirs in front of you. We watched this terrible disease strip Mum apart piece by piece, then take her far too early - she was 66 years old.
Mum was always independent, vivacious, outgoing, caring, funny and chatty, with the most infectious smile. The strongest, most inspirational woman I have ever known, making me so proud to be her daughter.
She was diagnosed in January 2009, when she was originally given 5 years to live. She fought for 8 years and 8 months, proving all the doctors wrong. Throughout her gruelling treatment and even when she discovered the tumour had grown and then spread, she never complained or moaned. She was too concerned how it was affecting my sister and I and the rest of our family.
If she hadn't have fought for longer, she would never have seen her first grandchild born, gone on a family holiday to Florida, met both her son-in-laws or known she was going to be a Nana again, and for that we are truly grateful.
When we got told in January 2017 that she had months left, we did everything we could to make her time left special. We pulled together my sisters wedding in 5 weeks, meaning Mum could see her little girl in a wedding dress, marrying the man of her dreams. I fell pregnant in the February, and Mum was one of the two people who knew the sex of the baby, something my husband and I didn't even know! They originally said 3 months in January, she fought for 8 months.
Her last 12 days were incredibly hard. When we got the call that she had slipped into a coma like state, my sister and I moved in with Mum and her husband Glenn to help care for Mum. We were by her side 24/7, taking shifts at night to sit with Mum. Again, she dumbfounded Doctors by going 12 days with no food or drink. It was testament to how strong she always was, and how healthy she was apart from the terrible tumour in her brain.
She took her last breath with the three of us by her side at 9:30pm on Friday 15th September. The pain was immense, and will never fully leave me. I gave birth 5 weeks later to another boy. This too brings a whole new world of pain, navigating Motherhood again without my own Mum to turn to for help or advice or to share in the fun, love and milestones. I cry every day that she is not here.
This is why I have decided to dedicate 2018 to raising funds to help prevent other families from going through the pain we have all had to endure. I love to run, it is my therapy, so all my activities will be running related! Mum was also the first person I called when I crossed a finish line and sadly she was never able to watch me race due to ill health.
So what am I going to do?! Read on for more............
The Big Event!!!!
The main event will be a run from Ascot in Berkshire to Rochester in Kent.......over 4 days! It is roughly a marathon a day in distance, so a massive undertaking. I will be doing this starting Thursday 30th August - Sunday 2nd September.
I was born in Ascot, so it's where she became my Mum and she was from near Rochester, so seems fitting I run to her old home town. Her ashes are scattered not far from Rochester, so I will visit the glade when I get there on the Friday.
The route is to be decided as yet, but the Thursday & Friday will be Ascot to Rochester and Saturday to Sunday will be the route reversed, so Rochester to Ascot.
This is a massive undertaking, but I want to do it to raise money predominantly for Brain Tumour Research as well as The Royal Marsden. I also want to raise awareness of Brain Tumours and the impact they have.
London Landmarks Half Marathon Sunday 25th March: I am running this as part of The Royal Marsden's running team, wearing their running vest. It is the first time this race is taking place and I am honoured to raise money for them.
Berlin Marathon Sunday 16th September: It has always been my dream to run the Berlin Marathon and thanks to Get Kids Going, I have a place, so I am honoured to raise money for such a worthwhile charity. It will be a year to the day that we lost Mum on Saturday 15th September, so it is fitting that I am running on the Sunday.