Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Why Cancer Research UK?

Many of you have already donated to my fundraising efforts on behalf of Cancer Research UK and, for that, I am incredibly grateful. I’ve set a goal of raising £750.00 and am very, very, very slowly marching toward that goal. There’s a link just over on the right, if you would like to donate, or I’d be happy to take money in US dollars offline and pool it (leave a comment if you need my address).

I’ve had a few people wonder why I’ve chosen to run for Cancer Research UK, rather than a US-based charity. So, I thought I would try and explain.

The main reason is that I feel incredibly loyal to Cancer Research UK, because their events are the reason I started running. I’d tried running a few times, on and off, but it never stuck. But, back in 2006, when I was finishing my Master’s degree and living in London, my godsister was in the final stages of battling melanoma. My mother, as most of you know, fought gallbladder cancer for two years and passed away just before Thanksgiving, 2002. My father was by her side every step of the way and was the world’s most devoted caregiver. I really think his death, officially from a heart attack in May 2003, was the result of a broken heart. I was really far away from the people I loved* and felt powerless to support them. So, I signed up for one of Cancer Research’s women-only 5Ks, Race for Life, through the City of London. It felt like something I could do to show my support, even if it was just in a tiny, tiny way. And it was amazing.

And I’ve kept running them, in 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2011. I stopped running during my time in South Africa, but signing up for another Race for Life, in Colchester, during the summer of 2009, is what got me started again. I’ve run them with friends, some of whom have run for years, others of whom were just getting started. I treasure those little medals, because they remind me of the people I miss, the memories I treasure, and the memories still to come.

So yes, there are millions of wonderful charities, some of which I send money to on a regular basis and many of which are also doing great work supporting cancer research and patients & families. But, Cancer Research UK inspired me to run and that’s a gift that I can never repay.

*That’s not entirely true. My parents LOVED London and the British Isles. When they were newly married, my parents saved up for some spectacular trips to the UK & Ireland. My mom collected British stamps, particularly stampless Scotland. I grew up watching old Britcoms with them and reading Paddington Bear. Our last family trip before my mom got sick was to England and Scotland. I think one of the hardest, bravest, and most loving things my father ever did was put me on a plane to London for study abroad less than a month and a half after my mother’s death. For reasons that are pretty clear to me, I feel their presence more strongly in London than anywhere else. It’s a place they loved, taught me to love, and where I still feel their love.