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I’ve done a couple of events this week to launch my book. The first was for the Ealing Eagles in the New Inn on Tuesday. Godfrey Rust, aka Bald Eagle, compered the evening; he was the reason why I joined the Eagles in the first place. I invited Louise Breckon-Richards to take part after seeing her play ‘Can you hear me running?’ about her experience of losing her voice and doing the London Marathon to help her cope, and it was brilliant to hear the section of the play where’s she running the marathon. Writer Jo Harper came along too. (Pictures below)

Then last night I did an event at the Maggie’s Centre at Charing Cross Hospital. I used to leave a bag of clothes there the day before chemo when I went to see the oncologist, and would then get changed there after running to the hospital. I ate lunch in the courtyard and breathed deeply before going in to have treatment, so it was lovely to go back there with the book. It was wonderful to see so many people at both these events, many of whom are part of the story, almost like seeing the book come to life!

Cancer didn’t just happen to me; it happened to my family and friends too. I asked Harry if he would write a poem about his perspective, and he wrote several which made us laugh and cry at both events. This is my favourite, which came from him noticing that at the heart of the word chemotherapy is the word mother:

There is a mother in the middle of chemotherapy.
Sitting at the end of reason is a son.
But there’s a treat at the beginning of each treatment,
Cutting through the brunt of everything – a run.

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2 thoughts on “Well and truly launched

  1. Dear Jenny

    I’ve just finished reading ‘Run for your life’ – a few tears, lots of moments of recognition of shared experience, and bucketloads of inspiration – thank you! But was led to get in touch in particular as a result of your mention of Lemm Sissay’s interview on Desert Island Discs, which sparked off a whole train of thought which I thought I’d share with you, encouraged by your comments about how much you welcomed messages even from those people you don’t know very much, like myself.

    I don’t know whether you recall, but at the time when I first met you, when you helped me by providing me with a training plan, I was going through a period when we had lost two really close friends from my book club to cancer, and two more were seriously ill. (We’ve just lost another – one of the first friends we made on moving to Ealing.) On top of that, in the same spring 2015, my best friend from university lost her fantastic, larger-than-life husband very suddenly due to a botched operation which was also cancer-related; and our little niece, who had ended up quadroplegic as a result of a tumour in her spine, also died having had very little chance at life at all. I was trying to support a friend who was going through clinical depression, but found myself talking to my doctor about how to avoid being brought down by it all myself. To meet you and find out what you were going through felt as if it had happened on purpose, and I have been very much strengthened and encouraged by your blogs and your determination to avoid self-pity.

    At the time when Desert Island Discs with Lemm Sissay was being broadcast, I was running the Royal Parks Half. I’d happened to meet Martin White (who was one of the pacers) at the start, and he talked to me about the idea of dedicating each mile to someone I knew. I did that, holding each person in turn in my thoughts as I went round the course, those who had gone and those who were left behind, and then realising that I was going to run out of miles well before I ran out of the people I wanted to think about. At the same time I had the radio playing through the headphones (I’m not very good at mindfulness and being in the moment!!) and found Lemm Sissay really inspiring. By the time he got to choosing the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards playing Amazing Grace, I had this picture in my head of all the people I’d been thinking about and praying for, all ‘up there’, lined up in a glorious rank and supported by the huge massed band of bagpipes and all singing Amazing Grace – and I had tears absolutely streaming down my face.

    It made me think about prayer, and that there are more prayers going on all the time than we ever know about. I love the idea of Tibetan prayer flags: that people make these flags and put them out, so the prayer is held before God even when we aren’t consciously praying. (After all, God’s not bound by our little concepts of time.) Holding all those people in my thoughts as I was running was a prayer, the band playing Amazing Grace was a prayer, and your book and your blogs have been really powerful prayers which will carry on touching people and having an effect long after you’ve written them.

    So that brings me to Palestine, which of course is also a prayer. I’ve had the thought in my mind that I’d love to join the runs in Palestine ever since first seeing something you put out about it on Facebook, but not done anything about in – not least because my running has been a bit of a disaster zone lately. But I’m now thinking about that also as a powerful prayer – as well as a lot of other things. I know I’m way too late for this year, and anyway I will need a year or so to try and sort myself out running-wise so I’m ready to do it. But I’d love to join you for 2018 if you’ll have me!!

    • Cathy, thank you so much for this and I’m sorry to hear that there has been so much bereavement and grief in your life recently and in the lives of people you love – that is tough. I love it that you were listening to Lemn Sissay while you were running the Royal Parks Half and dedicating a mile to different people is a beautiful idea. Please do come to Palestine next year – it’s such an amazing place and it would be brilliant to run it with you. I’m glad my blog and the book has been helpful. See you running somewhere!

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