I’m fitter than I’ve ever been – apart from the incurable cancer! – Rosie Fowler
Life has changed a lot in the last 5 years. Back in 2015 I was several stone overweight and did next to no exercise, even though I kidded myself that neither of those was really true. In my head I was still a size 10 twenty-something, the reality was very different. Then my 50th birthday loomed, and I really didn’t want to be fat and 50. Slowly and boringly I changed my diet, ate less and the weight came off. And I saw how much I needed to tone up. So despite nerves, I ventured into a running shop and bought trainers and a bra and, despite feeling like an imposter, put both on and went out to see if I could actually run at all. And I managed to walk/run a mile!
I started doing C25K properly. I didn’t like running then – I was doing it as a chore, to get fitter and to be healthier. It took months before I liked it. But the liking crept up on me, I started to miss running if I couldn’t get out for a run. The pile of running kit grew, I started buying gadgets, I started parkrunning, and I saw an evening running event on Clapham Common, and wondered ‘could I?‘
And of course I did. In a moment of madness for which I am eternally grateful, I signed up to some events. The second one was my first RunThrough event – one Saturday on Clapham Common, and the first time I ran 10k in under an hour. Great event, came away from it so happy!
But I was finding it a bit tough. It was very hot back in the summer of 2017 so I put the difficulties down to that, to hayfever, to having a bit of time off on holiday.
The symptoms of leukaemia are pretty non-specific anyhow, and back then, I didn’t even know what they were. By chance something completely different took me to the GP at the end of the summer and they did some routine blood tests. One of which must have set off a klaxon in the lab, as I was in haematology in less than 48 hours with a blood cancer diagnosis and starting treatment.
I realised how far life had changed because two of my earliest questions were ‘Is it OK to run?‘ and ‘Will I be fit enough to run my first ever Half as I’ve got one booked for early next year?‘ Yes to both – and the brilliant medics have knocked back the disease to a long term chronic condition managed by drugs, and went the extra mile by scheduling invasive tests around my very fledgling race calendar.
And yes, it was a calendar. I had treated myself to a RunThrough annual pass (my Christmas present to myself) and started doing two or three events a month. I started talking to other runners at events and found a community. That’s the best bit of RunThrough – the people. There are so many lovely runners and staff and volunteers (and considerable overlap between those categories!) There’s always someone to chat to, someone to congratulate you on a good run, or commiserate you on a bad one, or just set the world to rights. And most recently to give me canicross tips!
I’m on my third annual pass now – I’ve done 5k, 10k, Half and 20 mile events. I go along to the Monday running club (sometimes, when it’s light enough to see my feet!).
I’ve come a long way! Literally with miles and miles of running, and now with the challenge of the London Marathon looming. Paul’s Centre helped me so much at the time of my diagnosis, and I now volunteer for them as a Health Walk leader. I hope no-one reading this ever has to face cancer; but if you do, then centres like these can make a huge difference. And they need to funding so they are there and ready whenever someone needs to walk in or ring up for the first time.
It’s a small, low overhead charity, who have a Silver Bond VLM place that comes up every five years. I’m lucky to have it for 2020, and to be well enough to go for it. Do have a think about supporting me with cold, hard cash. But the importance of the many kind words from the fellow runners who already know I’m doing this has mean the most.
I ran my way through all the crap times my diagnosis and the uncertainties of the earlier parts of treatment. And I did a lot of that with RunThrough – so much more than an event organiser!
Rosie was a winner at the Active Wandsworth sports awards for 2019 in the ‘Adult Volunteer’ category.
If you would like to help support Rosie with her fundraising for Paul’s’ Cancer Support Centre you can donate on her page HERE