A year, a month, a week, a day…
A word is merely a collection of a finite number of letters. On their own these letters are powerless, and even when clumped together they require knowledge and context to interpret. But, for that interpretation they also require a collective agreement amongst a group of people as to the meaning of that specific collection of letters.
Without that agreement, knowledge and context letters are useless: dftuyers, vzbcks, tburklifgar: meaningless and powerless, at least until society decides otherwise.
However, some collections of letters have such ingrained collective agreement and sufficient social and historical context they immediately transcend their strict dictionary definition.
The strict meaning of Nazi for example is; a member of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party. However, to anyone not completely blinded to the reality of World War II, it means much more. Hate, anti-semitism, holocaust, extermination, racism, nationalism, global conflict, millions dead.
Cancer is another word that our collective understanding, experience and context of has granted far greater meaning than the dictionary’s: a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body.
What it has meant in my case has been fear of the unknown. There has been a treatment plan, the objective of which has been to put this disease my wife was diagnosed with in to remission. But cancer kills. Many more people with cancer die than don’t. When she was diagnosed I didn’t know what to think. Will my wife be one of them? I hoped not, obviously, but I couldn’t talk about it for two reasons. One, I needed to be strong for Louisa, and two, if I had thought about it it would have broken me.
The day after we received the diagnosis we went for a run together. 7 miles, 4.5 of which we ran together. At 4.5 miles we parted as I ran on ahead. I needed to push hard so my body distracted my brain. I went from 8.30 min miles to 6 min miles. As I pushed the strain on my body increased but my brain kept ticking, the effort wasn’t enough to dull my thoughts and several times I fought off tears, deep wracking sobs of tears. I didn’t know what to do, how to be the crutch I knew Louisa needed.
Now here we are, a year later, stood on the wall, in my mind at least — it’s actually the 11th May and I’m on a train to East Croydon after a frankly amazing dinner at Gymkhana, with some very special friends (Dave, Shane & Wayne), following a highly impassioned debate about all sorts of things.
A year can be a very long time, but a very short time, at the same time, which is a lot of time. 170 days seems a lot, which is when we entered this marathon malarky, but in 4 days we fly to China to run this mother fucker. In my head I’m embracing the opportunity to run the wall and just be in China, but fundamentally this run embodies so much more, not least our physical rejection of this disease.
As such on Saturday 20th May 8am China time, Louisa and I are going run a marathon and leave it all on the wall. When we’re done I think I’m going to cry for a week because fuck, I love this woman, and we have had one hell of a year, and there is no-one who is more inspiring to me.
My wife; strong, scared, brave, relentless, uncertain, weak, committed, beautiful, anxious, inspirational, amazing, clumsy, precise, singularly the best person I know. I’m so grateful she said yes!
Let’s leave this shit on The Wall!
Fuck You Cancer #FYCfromtheGWC