At the weekend I took part in different events to support two of my favourite cancer charities – on Saturday I helped out on the stand for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research (LLR) at the Cardiff Science Festival & on Sunday, did the Pretty Muddy Race for Life in Cardiff for Cancer Research but more about the mud later ……..
I arrived at the Senedd building in Cardiff Saturday lunchtime & could see the LLR stand from quite a distance since Claire had really gone for it with the branding! There were two researchers, Alex & Sarah, from the blood cancer research unit at UHW Wales who were very busy talking to people about their work & the part of the stand where I was to be helping was covered in literature about LLR. There was also a board covered with patient stories, including my own & in front of it were some large hairy chromosomes that I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought were abstract rabbits! The crowning glory in my eyes however was the enormous game of “kerplunk”, which took over at least half of a large table & which was a magnet for any child walking past …
The “game” had an extremely important message, regarding the Trial Acceleration Programe (TAP) which is an initiative by LLR to get more patients access to clinical trials & more quickly. I didn’t know until Saturday that only 6% of blood cancer patients get access to clinical trials as opposed to roughly 19% of other cancer patients. In the “game”, the “balls” represented blood cancer patients & the “sticks” the challenges that LLR face(d) in getting this programme set up & the idea was to remove the sticks/blockers, one of which is that LLR need to raise £1.5M to continue this programme. While the children played the game (which I re-set at least 15 times that afternoon), it was a really great opportunity to talk to many adults about LLR & the fantastic work that they do, & both their & my own personal experiences with cancer. When we finished, I was quite disappointed that I wasn’t going to be there on Sunday because I thoroughly enjoyed myself & although I thought I knew a lot about LLR, I learned even more & it was great to catch up with a couple of other blood cancer patients whom I had met at other LLR events & who were collecting for us that day.
After an early night Saturday, I was up bright & early for the second challenge of the weekend – the Pretty Muddy Race for Life in Cardiff. It was a boiling hot day & I met up with the girls for bacon sandwiches first (an absolute necessity) & we all compared our lovely new (clean!) Race for Life t-shirts. As we got closer to the park where the event was taking place, there was an absolute sea of pink – t-shirts, tutus, leggings, boas, headbands & loads more & everywhere I looked there were girls walking around proudly displaying their medals from the events in the morning. I remember commenting on how clean everyone looked & it wasn’t until we lined up & did the warm up that it became apparent why - our event at 2.30pm was the first ever Pretty Muddy event in Wales which made us even prouder to be a part of it. We took lots of pictures as a group & looked at the board where people had written about those for whom they were racing & I found this very poignant because of my own family history of cancer. During the warm-up, some girls also talked about their loved ones quite emotionally which added to the overall feeling of solidarity amongst the 300-400 women in our group.
And then we were off – it started with some inflatables, followed by a shallow muddy pool, some tyres & then it started to get dirty. We had to crawl along muddy tarpaulins under very muddy netting with people throwing water at us! We had to go through rope obstacles, climb over a big net & crawl through a muddy tunnel but they definitely saved the best for last! The last two obstacles involved crawling through a big muddy pool of water, underneath ropes with people brushing filthy water at us & finally sliding down a big slide into a pool of dark brown water. I’m normally blonde but my clothes & my hair ended up dark brown. It was the best fun I have had in years & it was worth every bruise. At the time of writing we have raised just under £500 for Cancer Research which is our target amount & I would do it all again in a heartbeat - roll on next year!
The only problem is that 2 days later we’re still finding mud ………..