And The Money Kept Rolling In

So. You know how usually, I’m like, oh hey, take your time donating, we aren’t racing for like three months, just chill and enjoy the blog for now…?

This year really isn’t like that. I’m afraid it’s time…for the return of the serious face.

My serious face has improved not one bit since last year.

My serious face has improved not one bit since last year.

Okay, is everyone feeling nice and serious? Today marks just ONE MONTH until our Race for Life, so get those donations in!

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IMG_2647

I wish I looked more like puss in boots.

I wish I looked more like puss in boots.

This year, it’s gonna be a lighting round of fundraising. I will be the Usain Bolt of the Cancer Research world. And we’re off to an excellent start. This week, we’ve gotten our first few donations (big shout out to Eleanor, Janine, Grainne and my rather wonderful dad), and we’ve managed to recruit a few more laydeez for the Sister Act team.

helen

This is Helen. She is every bit as excellent as this picture suggests. I once headbutted her in the face and cracked her cheekbone during an overcommitted dance move. She still wants to join my Race for Life team – that’s how lovely she is.

nicola

This is Nicola. You can pet her if you like, but be warned, she’s either gonna lick you or beat you up, depending on how she’s feeling. We’ve been besties since we looked like this:

She's probably gonna batter me for that.

She’s probably gonna batter me for that.

And finally, the big one. Oh my lord I am so excited. ladies and gents, I’m delighted to announce that after two years, Sister Act’s guest of honour has appeared at last. That’s right, MY MUM is running with us.

mum

So much success. I am beyond happy. This is how I feel right now:

IMG_2632And as if all this wasn’t awesome enough, look what just fell through my letterbox:

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IMG_2627You guuuys, stop that, you’re making me blush.

IMG_2634And here, as promised by that very charming envelope is my mega sexy Group Leader badge.

IMG_2640You feel that? That’s animal magnetism. In fact, I think next time I’m going on a date with Niall, I’ll dress entirely in Race for Life paraphernalia.

Me at my most desirable.

Me at my most desirable.

So get those donations flowing in folks, and get in touch if there’s any specific way I can humiliate myself on the internet for your moniez.

Donate!

 

 

Iain Banks

I’d imagine that a lot of you reading this know who Iain Banks is, although some of you may know him better as Iain M Banks. Iain Banks is a Scottish writer, who I had the good fortune of seeing in my third year at university. He spoke as part of the University’s celebration of 250 years of literature, and came across not only as an excellent writer, but as a warm, funny and generally great guy. As my friend and I left the lecture hall, I joked that someday, I would take him for a pint and pick his brain.

And today, Iain Banks announced on his website that he is “Very Poorly”.

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With typical style and grace, he recounts his diagnosis as a late-stage gall bladder cancer sufferer. He reveals the devastating truth behind his diagnosis, that he has only a few months to live. He will be spending them as any of us would hope to, marrying his partner, and spending time with her and their families, in places that are meaningful to them. His announcement can be found here.

Thanks to the work done by Cancer Research UK, cancer is no longer a death sentence. Survival rates have doubled in the last 40 years. But cancer is still taking people from us. People like this gentle, brilliant man with a penchant for beige suits, a warm, self-deprecating humour, and an ability to create worlds for us to escape into. I’ll shed a tear for Iain Banks, he deserves it. We are losing a very special man.

I wish him and his family all the best during this awful time. I hope their love and support can make his last few months a time of celebration, not of sadness. And I hope that someday, we will beat cancer for good.

The Boys are Back in Town

Well, it’s been a most excellent few days. Not only did we smash our weekend target of £100 by raising £160 by Sunday night, we have since received even more donations and smashed our first overall target of £500.

Oh. Em. Gee.

Oh. Em. Gee.

You guys are incredible. Seriously. Go and buy yourself a drink. Or a lollipop if you’re one of Sophie’s friends. I wasn’t expecting to hit target anywhere near this early, so thank you so much, you have all made me incredibly, incredibly happy.

Me right now.

I know that this weekend, it’s been all about the girls. Which is fair, since we’re so great. But for today, I want to talk about the boys, and how they can be a part of Race for Life.

Men aren’t allowed to run the Race, something which is often questiones, but which our participants tell us every year they don’t want to change. Sometimes it’s nice to have a ladies-only event. I think it rocks.

But the fact that you can’t run the Race doesn’t mean for a second that you can’t get involved in other ways. You can train with a lady, help fundraise, sponsor someone, or if you really want to be involved on the day, you can sign up to be one of our amazing volunteers!

nick

This is Nick. (Handsome, aint he?) Nick has been volunteering with Race for Life for 5 years, and has helped out at almost 100 events.

Nick’s kind of a special case, in that he hadn’t really been affected by cancer when he first volunteered. He was just looking for something to do outside on a beautiful day, and figured it might as well be something worthwhile. But the amazing atmosphere at Race, the people you meet, the stories you hear, kept him coming back year after year:

“I can only say I was inspired when I was talking to staff members and volunteers who had been affected in some way. Then during the race, talking to survivors, women beating the various cancers and reading back signs.  I was touched and something just changed, I changed! This click, this change that I had half way through the first volunteer day has now changed me in many ways. It has changed the way I think about me and others, my personality, people skills and more than I can list.”

Boys, you may not be able to run with us, but believe me when I say that you’re with us all the way. We’ll come to you for help, we’ll celebrate with you at the finish line and we’ll tell you our stories. I’m not exaggerating even a little bit when I say that without the incredible men who volunteer for us, our Race events literally couldn’t happen. What bigger role is there than that?

Race for Life isn’t just about women. Men get cancer too. Men lose their friends and their families to cancer. (And to dispel a common myth, the money raised by Race for Life does not go towards “women’s cancers”. Cancer Research UK funds research into all 200 types of cancer, and Race for Life is no exception.) So men, quite rightly, are more than welcome to be a part of the event, a part of the family. I know for a fact that I’d never get round the course if there weren’t people lining the sides, cheering me on. I can’t stress to you how important it is that men don’t feel separate from the Race for Life, how much we need you to support us. It is because of the kindness and generosity of men all over the country that Race for Life is the success story that it is.

And it can lead to amazing things! After volunteering for Race for Life, Nick went on to work in New York for four months, and later, to volunteer at the London Olympics. Being part of an event like this can inspire you to do things that you never thought you could do. Be amazing.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering at any of our Race for Life events, click hereAnyone can volunteer, no experience necessary, male or female. I was just concentrating on the guys because they can’t run.

Big thank you to Nick for letting me use his amazing story! Best of luck with this years events – he’s doing nine. If you have any questions for him, he can be found on Twitter at @nicksmithlive.

Mythbusters: “the Cure”

I know that a lot of the people reading this blog followed our Race for Life campaign last year, and a whole lot of you felt strongly enough about the messages we were sending that you donated to our cause.

I know I’ve said thank you so many times, in so many different ways, but I really can’t say enough how much of a difference you guys are making.

To illustrate this, I’m breaking out the serious face again. Serious faces folks. Get them on. You in the back!  You too. We’re fighting cancer here, tis a serious subject.

Ah Christ, it's even worse than the last one.

Ah Christ, it’s even worse than the last one.

One of the most unhelpful things about our conception of cancer is the idea of “finding a cure”. Cancer Research UK is the only organisation to fund research into all cancers: more than 200 of them. And with every donation, every year, progress is being made. Little by little, we are beating cancer.

The idea of “curing cancer” is massive, and makes us ignore the incredible advances that are being made. Your donations are not going towards a huge insurmountable goal, they are funding important trials and projects that are increasing the chances of those of us affected by cancer. If you have donated any amount of money to us, you should feel amazing about that, and if you can afford to donate again, please rest assured that your money will go towards new, bigger, better research.

Here are just a few projects funded by Cancer Research UK in the last year:

The International Cancer Genome Consortium: At its root, cancer is caused by genetic defections. This project is creating the largest ever map of cancer’s genetic faults – a blueprint for cancer. By better understanding the root causes of different cases of cancer, more accurate, personal treatments can be devised.

The Sunbed Regulation Act: Introducing legislation to prevent under-18s using sunbeds. It has been shown that use of sunbeds before the age of 35 can increase the likelihood of certain types of skin cancer by up to 75%. Prevention of cancer is even cooler than cures.

AbirateroneA drug used to treat men with prostate cancer whose tumours have become resistant to chemotherapy. Men treated with abiraterone as well as steroids lived, on average, four months longer than those treated with only steroids.

There are a whole host of brilliant developments, which I don’t have the space to recount here, but if you’re interested, an awesome timeline of achievements can be found hereOr if you’d like to find out about projects happening in your area, have a look here!

Excellent. In the face of all this SCIENCE, cancer is fading away like that suspicious stain on your favourite jeans.

Faaaaading.

Faaaaading.

Look at that. A Big C literally falling apart in the face of our mighty, mighty donations. How entirely satisfying.

Cancer is not a big, scary, indestructible enemy. We do not need to find “a cure” to beat it. Every single day, we make it weaker. We edge ever closer to a world without cancer. Every penny we raise funds research that will help us beat cancer sooner. Let’s give it hell.

Show me your warface, girl!

*WARNING*: This post will definitely contain at least one sweary word. It will however be in a context that I reckon nobody could argue with.

I don’t know about you guys, but cancer makes me really mad. I mean, who does it think it is? Strutting around, casually ruining people’s lives. Taking our loved ones away. Forcing people to become meth cooks. (Just started watching Breaking Bad. It freaking rocks).

Anyway, my point is that if cancer was a physical entity, we would all beat the hell out of it. In fact, when I asked for feedback on my 2012 Race for Life campaign, there was one particular message that everybody remembered and could relate to. In fact, I reckon if you took our journey with us last year, you probably know what message I’m referring to.

Photo on 18-04-2012 at 15.57

 

“Because fuck cancer” is a message that everyone can get on board with. The swearing might have seemed a little over the top if we weren’t dealing with such a gigantic asshat. Alas, we are.

In fact, the official Race for Life campaign this year is going along a very similar, albeit more socially acceptable, line. Race for Life 2013 says “Cancer, we’re coming to get you”.

Thoroughly cool.

And as part of their campaign to show cancer that we are strong, independent women who don’t need no, er, cancer, Cancer Research UK have started a little competition.

Show me your war face walrus

Angry walrus hates cancer.

This is a really awesome way to get involved in the Race for Life if you don’t have the time to race or the funds to sponsor. You can still take a few moments to throw cancer your warface, and show it that we are not afraid.

All you have to do is click on this link, take a photo of you giving cancer your best warrior pose and upload it to the Facebook page.

The person with the best pose will gain the title of Official Race for Life Warrior 2013. Who doesn’t want that title? You can insist that people refer to you as “the Grand High Warrior”, or “Your Royal Badassness”, or “Khaleesi”. Also, your pose will become an integral part of the Race for Life CANCERSLAM. (More details on this super mysterious event to follow). We are slamming cancer. That’s all I can say for now. If I told you more, I’d have to kill you.

Without further ado, I present to you my conquest for Grand High Warrior Princess 2013.

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Look at the rage in those eyes. Be afraid, cancer, be very afraid. And I’m not alone!

Pyjama ninja Sophie will fuck cancer's shit up.

Pyjama ninja Sophie will fuck cancer’s shit up.

Even if you don’t submit an entry yourself, do click on the link and have a look at the submissions. It is really, incredibly heartening to see so many strong women giving the finger (although none literally doing that…YET) to cancer. Besides, there is a plethora of adorable tiny warriors to feast your hungry ovaries on.

I feel like that sentence was a bit weird. Let’s forget that happened.

Cancer makes so many of us feel weak and powerless. It even makes some of us feel less like a woman, or less like a man. For everyone who has ever felt less like themselves because of cancer, I’m sticking the fingers up.

Kids, violence is never the answer. But sometimes, you gotta kick some ass.

 

The Fight Back

So, I’ve been writing this blog for a couple of days now, and am delighted to say that we’ve just reached 100 visitors.

This makes me feel like this:

An artists impression of Fiona as an internet mega-celeb.

An artist’s impression of Fiona as an internet mega-celeb.

Even though as I’m writing, I actually look like this:

Spoilers: I'm not a natural redhead.

Spoilers: I’m not a natural redhead.

Even more amazing than that, we’ve had our first few donations! *Pause for mini-party.*

Big, big shoutout to Laura, Tanvee, Waqas and Karen – our first donors. You guys utterly rock and your awesomeness makes me want to bake you a cake.

Our Race is still aaaaaages away, which is the only reason I haven’t started training yet. Once it gets a little closer I am gonna be on it like a car bonnet. Maybe. WHAT I WAS TRYING TO SAY BEFORE I SO RUDELY INTERRUPTED MYSELF, is that you still have tons and tons of time to sponsor, we’re not racing until May 26th, so feel free to just kick back and enjoy the blog posts for now 🙂

I’m gonna talk a little bit about the incredible work that is funded by this event, so everybody, get your serious faces on.

I am bad at serious faces.

I am bad at serious faces.

The 2012 Race for Life campaign raised somewhere in the region of 50million pounds. To put this in perspective, here is a list of some things 50million pounds can buy:

1,500,000,000 microscope slides.

416,666,667 petri dishes.

That’s a whole lot of science.

Clinical trials for 533,333 women with breast cancer.

Pre and post-surgery chemotherapy for 66,667 people.

That’s a whole lot of people with a better chance.

400,000 cancer support nurses.

My mum is pretty much the greatest person in the world. I may have mentioned this before. Cancer support nurses made sure that even during the most horrific six months of her life, she didn’t lose her sparkle for a moment.

This house.

Maybe they should have bought that…no, focus Fiona, focus!

That’s the greatest thing about Race for Life, by donating, running, or even reading a blog like this, you are becoming a part of something huge. We received donations in all shapes and sizes last year, and we appreciated every single one of them. If every who has clicked into this blog so far donates just £1, we’ll have raised enough for a breast cancer trial, or a cancer support nurse. That could be one little girl who doesn’t lose her mum. With everyone giving just a little, it’s unbelievable how much we can achieve. Thank you so much for reading and for donating, I literally can’t tell you how much me and Sophs appreciate it.

Cancer, do you really fancy your chances? I don’t. I reckon, together, we can take you.