I need to learn to keep my mouth shut!
In December 2021 I was asked to do an interview for regional TV here in the UK to talk about the challenges that I’d taken on during the year, as well as raise awareness.
During 2021 I’d completed a 100km ultra marathon. I say completed rather than ran, because there was very little running on the 2nd day! I’d also completed a marathon hike for a cancer charity in the English Lake District as well as another marathon hike around football stadia on Merseyside with some football celebrities.
Taking on challenges
The interviewer asked “What challenge are you going to take on in 2022?” and I hadn’t even thought about it. I wasn’t actually planning on doing one! I answered “I think I’ll attempt to run at least 5km per day in 2022,” and I thought nothing of it until the piece was broadcast and it had been left in. I’d said it and it had now been broadcast across the whole of the North West of England, so I had little choice but to give it a go.
As I’d decided to attempt the challenge, I thought about how I could use it as a charity fundraiser and which charity I’d support. I’ve raised loads of money for Prostate Cancer UK and MacMillan with previous challenges, so I chose to fundraise for the Move Charity, a small charity that works with teenagers and young adults living with cancer to help them get moving again, because exercise can be so vital for people living with and beyond cancer.
Move are also behind 5k Your Way, an initiative linked to parkrun that encourages people living with and beyond cancer, their families, friends, and health care professionals to get together on the final Saturday of every month and complete a 5k parkrun their way. For most that means walking but they can jog, run, or simply cheer or volunteer, and afterwards we head for coffee and become a cancer support group.
Running in many situations
I set off on January 1st, and I’ve run in all weathers. Sleet, snow, hail, torrential rain, major storms, heat waves and everything that the British weather could throw at me. I’ve also run every day while on holiday, the days after my quarterly treatments when I’ve felt yuck, days when my treatment-related fatigue was so great that all I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and hibernate. But I’ve forced myself to put my trainers on and get out.
It also seems that I unknowingly continued while I had COVID! I’d had a very slight sniffle while on holiday, and when I got back was due to see my doctor. So I did a COVID test “just in case,” and it was positive. The following two days were negative, so I resumed running again after a 3-day COVID break.
Encouraging others to get moving, too
As of my writing this at the end of November, I’ve just completed 331 days. Just December plus three extra days to make up for the COVID break to go, and I should finish on January 3rd, which will be a big celebration day. I’ll be encouraging people all over the world to Move 5k that day and to join me virtually and use the hashtag #movewithtony, so that I can track how far we’ve managed to run in one day. I’m also hoping that participants might make a small donation to my fundraising.
I set out to raise £1,000, and here I am at £10,500 with a month still to go. I was very fortunate to be asked to do two national TV interviews that helped enormously, but also raised huge amounts of awareness of prostate cancer.
The running has been every bit as tough as I expected after 5.5 years of hormone therapy and steroids. Carrying extra weight with less muscle mass makes running so challenging, but I firmly believe that staying as fit as possible is contributing massively to me still being alive after my terminal diagnosis in May 2017.
Never has there been a truer saying: “if exercise were a pill, we’d all be taking it.”
Who is going to join me on January 3rd? Don’t forget the hashtag #movewithtony, and remember you don’t have to run; just do 5k your way!
In the future, I’ll keep my big mouth shut, but I hope my story inspires men living with prostate cancer to Move! It’s so important.
How familiar are you with inherited gene mutations and cancer?