Beacons of Hope
A special day today at Cookstown, the 16th #TimPageFitForLife parkrun; Ruth and I encountered some very special people today.
Ailis Corey has faced treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This included an 'allogenic' stem cell transplant. In December 2013, I had an autologous transplant - my own stem cells - whereas allogenic is a tougher and riskier procedure, where you receive a donor's stem cells.
Happily, Ailis' sister Brenda was a match and the transplant has been a success. So much of a success that Ailis has just returned from the British Transplant Games with a Silver in the 3k Walk and Bronze in the 10k Road Race Cycle.
Ailis, family and friends have travelled a tough road at times. Part of the battle was to campaign for funding within NI of the drug Brentuximab. More details are at Ailis' Support Fund Facebook page which includes a photo montage of Liverpool successes.
The word 'Inspiring' simply doesn't do justice to the resilience & spirit lived out by Ailis and family & friends.
An audio interview with Ailis by journalist Gillian McDade is here.
Arriving at MUSA, we met Julie Kelly. Tragically, Julie's sister Lynne died of cancer. Julie and some running friends have established Seapark Charity Runners to support two charities - Macmillan and Brainwaves NI.
Julie explained that, as well as running her way around all Northern Ireland parkruns, she has also just completed 10 x 10k runs. It was good to swap notes with Julie about NI's parkruns - we were both impressed by the beauty of the Enniskillen course. Again today, here was human resilience and an outward-looking generative response to aftermath of a horrible disease.
Julie and team's JustGiving page is here.
Run Director Irwin Spiers gave a very warm welcome today, inviting me to say a few words to the runners and volunteers. Er, next time, I'll need to remember to click the mega-phone trigger button - but I'm learning and won't make that mistake again.
The regular physio and rehab exercises after recent injury are doing the job of keeping my running condition ok. I'm grateful for the encouragement of colleagues John Purvis, Cathal O'Neill and Phil Lockett - the BT posse - who ran with me today. With Cathal timing, I got a 30 second walk-break every four minutes and still came in under 40 minutes... Good to be getting back on form.
We're now into a #TimPageFitForLife pattern of asking parkrun Volunteers to join in a group photo before/after the race, to recognise the fact that
"No volunteers... No parkrun!"
Thanks to the MUSA Cookstown team for the warm welcome today.
We got in the car and headed home to Holywood, listening to Radio Ulster.
On the same day that we met Ailis and heard about her success at the Transplant Games, serendipity struck.
We were delighted to hear Lucia Quinney Mee speaking. The Quinney Mees are family friends and they, also, have faced a challenging road at times. Lucia, who has endured and come through three liver transplants, was also at the Transplant Games. Lucia won seven medals!
Lucia's interview is on BBC iPlayer until 3-Sep, here, and her 6 minute story is worth listening to.
Lucia has also recently created a blog, live-loudly-donate-proudly.org - I can recommend this excellent post.
What a day... running performance regained, another friendly parkrun community, stories of resilience & support through adversity and a timely reminder of the vital benefit of transplants - a spur to renew our #TimPageFitForLife effort to give people an opportunity to sign up as stem cell donors.
Thank you for support.
Today's album is here and next week I'll be at Colin Glen.
Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma: £10,151
Raised for Delete Blood Cancer: £500
People registered with Delete Blood Cancer: 62
People who have signed up with parkrun: 25
Tim's Running Progress