I know it seems like it was only yesterday, but Minx has been around for over seven years now. And we have some customers (although that seems like the wrong word), who have been with us since the beginning. We get to chatting over swapsies emails, (really if there were a way to perfect virtual coffee no one would get any work done around here), and I get to know what they like to wear, I even have them in mind when I'm buying certain things for the range. And I always notice (hoping things are OK), when it's been a while - as it had with Lesley (that's her, left, on the Mary Townley Loop) when her email popped up in the inbox yesterday. She wanted to know if she might guest blog and attached a piece for me to read. Here it is:
Funny old thing life. You start the year positively enough (with a walk up Cross Fell with my husband in my case), full of plans, rides to be done, adventures to be had and this year there’s going to be absolutely no excuses – life’s too short and all that.
Then the unthinkable happens, what should have been a straightforward visit to the breast clinic a few days later turned out to be not so straightforward. You know it’s bad news by the atmosphere in the consulting room but that doesn’t stop the belief that it cannot possibly be you they’re talking about, it’s not real, it’s not happening now and it’s certainly not happening to me….it’s gone so quiet and every one’s looking at me….I’m not going to cry…really I’m not. …
A few weeks and one mastectomy later I’ve got the biggest grin on my face and you want to know why? I’ve just been told that the cancer has not spread - no further treatment required and from that moment on I have considered myself one of the luckiest people alive, because essentially I’ve just been given the rest of my life back . You know that thing you call, ‘your life’, well I didn’t realise it but I had been taking mine for granted. I’ve lived with the assumption that I would automatically live the life I want to, till I’m old and wrinkly and would shuttle off when I’m good and ready thank you.
I love the outdoors, always have done. Over the years I’ve walked, rock climbed, back packed, canoed , but it’s cycling that has grown to be my main love and it’s that, that has helped keep me going through this whole experience. During what I can only call ‘very dark moments’, when I didn’t know how long my future would be I would revisit my most memorable rides in my head: bowling along the ‘mad, little road’ between Ullapool and Lochinver with the smell of gorse in the air, making it to Cape Wrath (in the sunshine too), conquering Ventoux, riding the Mary Townley loop with old friends, my favourite local ride up the Chase …. the list goes on. But it isn’t just reliving memories that has kept me together, the support from my family and friends has been amazingly positive, quite over whelming in fact. I’ve had cards, letters, text messages, phone calls, flowers and friends have even given up rides to walk with me.
I have been so impatient to start riding again and whilst undergoing ‘reconstruction works’ the one question I have consistently asked my consultant is ‘When can I get back on my bike?’. Eventually, after promising I would be really careful she gave me the green light. That first ride was really special – only 11 miles which left me unbelievably tired but it gave me back the hope that my life was going to return to normal and gradually it is.
Although it won’t be the ‘normal’ it was before. Now, I’m just an average rider, not the fastest or the slowest, I don’t even enter races but I still set myself challenges, I like to feel tired at the end of a ride and I like to be fit. I now look forward to going out and making it hurt, to pushing myself harder than I’ve ever done, to getting wet ,muddy, cold, hot, sweaty, cut and grazed, blown all over the road, because if I’m feeling those things that means I am most definitely alive.
There’s going to be no more ‘I’ll do that one day….’ All my ‘one day’ dreams are now in the planning, they’re getting dates set against them, in the not too distant future I’ll actually be doing them. Because as I’ve recently learnt, shit can indeed happen and sometimes that means we might not be around when ‘one day’ arrives, I’m not going to risk that happening to me again.
Good luck with your ‘one day’ plans.
Footnote: You might be interested to know that I am only 46, I’ve never smoked, don’t drink , am reasonably fit and there’s no history of breast cancer in my family. What made me go to my GP was (1) a husband who kept on at me to go and (2) a very small area of eczema on my breast (I actually went along expecting to be referred to a dermatologist). I had no lumps at all but as it turned out I did have breast cancer. So if you notice any changes in your breasts not just lumps, don’t hesitate, go straight to your GP.