For the last few weeks I’ve been trying to find a day when I could run to work again. I travel around England quite often for work, so it needs a bit of planning to find a London day and then take my clothes in ahead of time so I don’t have too much to carry. Thursday 19 May seemed to be the first opportunity, and then looking back I realised that it would be exactly a year since I last ran to work, which made me determined to do it. It got slightly complicated when I realised that I needed to go to Manchester on the 19th, so I ended up running to work, having a shower and then catching a train up north. There are lots of anniversaries at the moment – of getting my diagnosis, having my hair cut short in preparation for chemo – and it’s cathartic to mark them and move on. Today it will be a year since my first chemo treatment; I’ll be spending the day cycling to the Isle of Wight with a group of friends.
The run last Thursday wasn’t particularly remarkable. It was a grey day and a familiar route, but it left me smiling to myself all day when I thought about it. Last year I ran to work on 19 May with a sense of loss and of heading into the unknown. This year I ran with gratitude that I’ve found myself again, and I’m able to do what I love. But I’m still heading into the unknown. I’ve handed in my notice at work and will leave at the end of July. I’m going to write a book based on this blog which will be published at the start of next year, and after that I’ll take some time to recalibrate and see what emerges. I’ve been in my job for four years and have made a good contribution there, and it feels like it’s time to move on. When I first went back to work in January I found it really hard. I think I was still adjusting to all that had happened to me, and was also getting used to Tamoxifen. I’ve had to be quite intentional about looking after my mental health, and not spiralling down into anguish and despair. I felt like leaving work then, but that would have been a decision based in desolation. Now, a few months on when I’m much more myself, it feels like a positive decision, although a slightly scary one. No one knows what the future holds but last year showed me that I can meet difficult times with determination and resilience, and with a really supportive community around me. So I’m looking forward to what lies ahead, whatever it might be.