Sun, sea, sand and swans... and some cycling!

Jenny Fairclough | 26 July 2013

After completing the Edinburgh marathon I was left feeling rather ‘flat’ and somewhat bereft of an upcoming goal.

Ever since sparring with ‘comrade cancer’ five years ago, there had always a challenge to overcome whether it was the latest round of chemotherapy or radiotherapy, or the physical challenges I set myself in the years to follow.

I had spent the best part of the last 12 months ‘psyching myself up’ for the marathon then following a strict training programme to help me reach my target. Despite signing myself up to do the Edinburgh marathon again next year to try and achieve the sub-5 hour time I hoped for this year, I felt I needed something to do now. The answer was close to hand.

First came the sun and with it the subliminal message to ‘chill out’ and actually do some serious relaxation. Training for the marathon had become addictive and I needed to be re-educated in the art of rest. To help with this I focussed on our planned week in Dorset (with friends) and Devon (camping and visiting family).

More sun gave us the impetus to take the bikes with us and on the day after we arrived at our friends’ home in Poole we did a fun bike ride to Durdle Door where the sea was milky blue, the sand was hot and the sea was refreshingly cold, as was the ice cream, as we set off homeward bound.

On the way home Barbara’s bike got a pesky puncture so we did a little bit of ‘swanning around’ by a lovely river while the boys gallantly mended the tyre. Then back to base. Our friends are lucky enough to have an outdoor pool which we frequented during our visit and I even did a 5k and 10k run round a lovely boating lake on two consecutive days. So I did a triathlon my way: swim… breakfast… cycle… ice cream… run… dinner. Perfect!

Yet more sun and next was our transition to a five-star campsite in South Devon for four days. I got to meet up with my brother and other family who live in Totnes; a great opportunity as we don’t see much of each other because of our geographical separation.

More sun and sand during our day out to Blackpool sands (not to be confused with our Blackpool up North). A highlight of the Devon trip was lunch at Riverford Organic Field Kitchen where I ate some of the best vegetarian food I have ever tasted. We then did a self-guided tour of the farm during which we were allowed to pick any vegetables or fruit that were ready. During the tour a horsefly got to eat some of the best food it had ever had in the form of my hand and legs.

The sun continued and we ended our week’s holiday via Wiltshire for one night to visit more friends. This included a rather bumpy bike ride along some tank tracks on Salisbury Plains, and yes we did see a tank. The following morning I woke up to find my (horsefly-bitten) hand was alarmingly swollen with signs of venom spreading along my fingers.

An emergency trip to the pharmacy confirmed that I needed to see a doctor immediately as it is on the side that I had my lymph glands removed. Therefore healing on that side is impaired. This is yet another reminder that despite my five year ‘all clear’ diagnosis I can’t take anything for granted, and possible infections need dealing with immediately. The triage nurse at the practice in Marlborough saw me within half an hour (impressive) and within three days of starting a mega dose of antibiotics my ‘sore paw’ is almost back to normal.

On arrival home there was a letter waiting for me inviting me for a breast cancer screening mammogram in August. Despite being discharged in January from the hospital system I welcomed the letter as I am now in the realms of three-yearly screening mammograms for women over 50.

I asked myself: ‘Is it really necessary to have another mammogram after eight months since the last one?’ I came back with the instantaneous answer of ‘Yes!’ If I don’t take this opportunity I will have to wait another three years. Despite what I consider to be my great fortune to have made a good recovery I can’t, and won’t, take any chances.

I’d like to say a final thank you to all my supporters and sponsors for the Edinburgh Marathon. The final total of £1061 is more than double what I set out to raise. I am thrilled!

Visit Jenny’s JustGiving page.