This time last year, I set out for my last long run before the Palestine Marathon, with a sense of excitement and anticipation. Half way through, I tripped and fell in Richmond Park giving myself an impressive black eye and a mangled knee. It felt devastating at the time, to have to pull out of both Palestine and London marathons, but I went to Palestine anyway and ran/hobbled the 10k instead.

Next month I’m going back to Bethlehem, this time to do the half marathon on 1 April. It will be the fourth year I’ve taken part in the race, and it feels rather satisfying to be completing the hat-trick of distances on offer! I’m raising money for breast cancer services at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza, and you can sponsor me here. I’ve had excellent care for breast cancer over the last year. Women in Gaza have a much harder time. Cancer services are woefully inadequate with out of date technology for screening, no facilities for radiotherapy, little information on self examination and rising incidence of breast cancer. A woman in Gaza with breast cancer has less than a 50% chance of being alive in 5 years; for women like me in the UK there’s an 87% survival rate five years on.

We had a briefing meeting for this year’s Palestine marathon trip last week where I met some of the other people I’ll be going with, and it started to all feel a bit more real. Chris, who is leading the trip, got us to introduce ourselves at the start and asked us to say what was our least favourite bit of running. I couldn’t think of anything at the time, but to be honest my least favourite bit is asking people to sponsor me. I intended last year to be the last time I asked people to sponsor me to run in Palestine, because it feels hard to keep asking people to support you to do the same thing. But then I got cancer, and I feel I want to wring every last good thing possible out of the experience. I would love my run to enable my sisters in Gaza, who are facing the same thing as I did, to get the care and treatment they need. So, all donations small and large will be very gratefully received – thank you!

Meanwhile, running continues to be a life-line for me. I’m back at work which has been tough, even though everyone has been very supportive. I’m gradually feeling more myself mentally and emotionally, but physically I’m doing ok. I did the Wokingham Half six weeks after radiotherapy ended, as that is one of my club’s championship races, and was really pleased to come in just under 2 hours. This morning I did parkrun in just under 25 minutes, a post-op PB. I’m enjoying getting gradually faster and fitter, and I can’t wait to run in Bethlehem.

(The photo is my friend Marwan, running the 10k in 2015.)

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