At approximately 11pm on Sunday 5 April 1998 I got the phone call. 16 years may have passed, but as I think back to that night I can feel the tears building in my eyes. I can’t remember the words my brother used, but they didn’t matter anyway. As soon as I picked up the phone (or maybe as soon as it started ringing) I knew my Dad’s life had ended and that mine was never going to be the same again. My Dad was just 50 years old.

Me and My Dad

Me and My Dad sometime around 1980

So many of our lives have been affected by cancer. It is the reason my children will never have first hand experience of what a truly great man my Dad was. Cancer is also the reason my youngest child is growing up with just one grandparent.

I signed up for the 100 Mile Run, knowing I wanted to support a cancer charity, but I truly wasn’t sure which one. Then I found Maggie’s.

Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre is a place anyone can turn to for help with any of the issues, small or large, associated with cancer.

When I first walked into Maggie’s in Cheltenham I instantly felt at ease and wished there had been a similar centre in Southampton back in 1998.

The feeling in Maggie’s Cheltenham is a far cry from being in a hospital, yet like all Maggie’s Centres, the Cheltenham Centre is just minutes away from the oncology unit at Cheltenham General Hospital. The Centre serves the 3 counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire where 35,000 people are living with cancer.

Under one roof Maggie’s provides help with cancer information, benefits advice, psychological support both individually and in groups, courses such as Yoga and Creative Writing as well as stress reducing strategies. You don’t have to make an appointment, or be referred, you just drop in. Everything Maggie’s offers is free of charge.

Maggie’s is not just for cancer patients.

Maggie’s is there for anybody who feels the need for help, which includes those who love and look after someone with cancer, who often feel as frightened and vulnerable as those who actually have the disease.

I can’t help but wonder if a Maggie’s might have helped me through the heartache of losing my Dad. Seeing what Maggie’s offers and knowing that they are also trying to open more centres (including one in Southampton) I cannot think of any better tribute to my Dad than to support this wonderful charity.

Running the 100+ miles of the Cotswold Way is not going to be easy. The longest distance I have ever run is a marathon. Both of the marathons I have run have been tough with moments where I felt like quitting. This challenge is roughly 4 times the distance. It also has hill climbs that are approximately the same as climbing Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon combined (the 3 biggest mountains in the UK). Both of my marathons were relatively flat courses.

Less than 5 years ago I was digging an early grave with my fork and my lifestyle. I’ve been lucky to have a second chance at life. I know the 100 Mile Run is going to be a struggle, but I am choosing to do it. Those living with cancer do not have a choice. Maggie’s supports those living with cancer.

Please donate whatever you can afford and help me to support Maggie’s via my Just Giving page:

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