This June I'm setting myself a challenge to walk 10,000 steps per day, in the name of cancer. For a while now, I've wanted to do something to raise money for Cancer Research UK for personal reasons, so what better way to motivate myself to get fitter than for a fantastic cause. And it's not as easy as it seems...
For those of you who have never monitored your steps in an average day, believe me when I say it's harder than it looks. I bought myself a FitBit a while back and was quite shocked at how little the steps mount up when you are sitting at a desk all day. I monitored myself over a few weeks and shamefully on some days I would only clock up a couple of thousand steps. The only days I was regularly reaching the target was if I hit the crosstrainer in the evening, or on weekends when I tend to be more active and generally out and about. It was the wake up call I needed, so when I heard about the Cancer Research UK Stepping All Over Cancer Challenge I decided to sign up.
Those of you who know me well, know how closely cancer has touched me and my family. I've lost my paternal Nonno, and my maternal Grandma to the illness, I have close family and friends who have battled with the disease, and thankfully are still here to tell the story. What you might now know is that I have also had a scare myself, which turned my world upside down.
My personal story aside (it's not something I like to talk about, but ladies make sure you regularly have your smear test - it could save your life!), my perspective on life was completely changed in 2013 when my wonderful Grandma was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I'm the eldest grandchild, and lived in the closest proximity to her so along with my Mum, Aunt and Uncle I became an integral part of her support network when she needed care.
The only thing Grandma asked of us was that she was able to remain at home and we all agreed we wanted this too. I may be in my 30s but looking after her was the most grown up thing I've ever had to do. I was extremely close to my grandparents who looked after me every day after school when I was growing up, but it was now my turn to look after this incredibly brave woman. At the time we didn't know how long she would have with us but the cancer took hold quickly and it was only 6 short precious but very difficult months.
I'd of course do it again in a heartbeat. I can genuinely say that I made the most of spending quality time with Grandma in those last months. Memories which will last a lifetime, from watching our favourite musicals together, shopping (see my very first blog on how I became a Shopafrolic!) and watching Andy Murray winning Wimbledon for the first time while eating our strawberries and cream - naturally! But none of this takes away the heartbreak of watching my beloved star baker, singing, shopaholic, caring Grandma (and my biggest fan), growing weaker and slowly slipping away from us. I will always miss her, and curse the way she was taken away from us.
Cancer touches us all, and the statistic that 1 in 2 people born after 1960 in the UK will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime is well documented. This is a really scary statistic so that is why I feel the pull to do something about it, however small it might be in the scheme of this big bad ugly disease.
So, there you have it! A personal goal to get more healthy, and an emotional one to raise money for a cause in the name of loved ones who are no longer here, and those who stood up to cancer and came out the otherside. They say it takes a minimum of 21 days to form a habit so I'm hoping this will be the kickstart I need to change my lifestyle.
If you feel you can support my fundraising with a donation then you can do so here. However, your encouragment is simply enough so a heart-felt thank you for reading this and do follow my progress throughout June. We can beat cancer one step at a time.