Don't worry, I'm not running it this year - I haven't jumped the gun that much! I shall, however, be attempting the next one and today I thought I'd tell you why.
There was a girl in my class at primary school. She and her family had come over to England after escaping the war in Liberia, so she only joined our school in Year 4. We nevertheless got very close very quickly, because we both had differences which made us self-conscious and shy. Tina, you see, had leukaemia and she'd lost all her hair as a result of several hefty bouts of chemotherapy; so she wore a hat. Some of the not so nice kids (I won't say 'nasty' because, in hindsight, we were all just as troubled as each other, but dealt with things in very different ways) took great delight in knocking it off her head, just as they loved putting my chair on manual and rolling me down the hill that one time. So we'd pick each other up (metaphorically, thankfully) and dust ourselves off. We even wrote a Year 6 SATS exam together as I was in hospital, recovering from an operation, around the same time as she was there for more treatment. For a girl who's used to solitary confinement in exam periods, because I dictate, it was the most fun I've ever had during a test.
Tina died on Hallowe'en in October 2004. It's her birthday today. She would be turning twenty. Happy birthday, dear, and welcome to the third decade club. Love you always.
In Year 6 I was a playground friend. I spent most of my time in the 'little playground', with Reception and the Year 1s. I seemed to get asked for a lot - mainly, I think, because they wanted either to sit on my lap or stand on the back of my chair! Two of the girls lived on my estate - one in the same little crescent of twelve houses and the other in the flats around the front. We used to 'play out' together an awful lot. It was great fun, if a bit of a stretch for a tomboy like me - they wanted me to be their mum and I'd pretend to drive them to all sorts of different places.
The girls could've only been about five then, though they both had older siblings. Erica, the one who lived slightly further away, had the cheekiest of grins and I called her 'my little monkey'. She was devastated when I left for secondary, as was I to leave her.
At some point in my first year, a friend called and said he had some news. He asked me whether I remembered Erica and, clearly unaware of how close we'd been, proceeded to tell me that she had a brain tumour and that they were switching the life support off very soon.
She was seven, and it's eight years today since they did exactly that.
I'll run in memory of them both.
On a happier note, though, I feel you should know about my Gramma, who had uterine cancer when I was about seven. Thanks to brilliant doctors and a hysterectomy, she survived, and has constantly been a wonderful support and friend. So I'll run for her, too - it is, after all, the Race for Life - and I'll end with a focus on the living!
Thanks, as always, for reading - and we've raised £300 in three days! I'm overwhelmed with gratitude!
All love to you.