Emma Young, 36, is a busy mum-of-three from Hemel Hempstead, living with secondary breast cancer. But far from curling up in a ball and crying, she has added the 2016 St Albans Walking Half Marathon to her bucket list…
"Being a single mum and living with cancer is extremely hard. Some days I struggle to wake up and get out of bed and I’d give anything for an extra hour's sleep - but my children are the reason I get up. They keep me going, they need me to keep it together, they are the reason I soldier on.
Don’t get me wrong, some days, after the school run, I don’t have the strength to physically do anything and sometimes I feel sad. But once I've had a good cry I feel ready to face the world again. I call these 'waves' of emotion and I've learnt to 'ride' them.
Luckily, I’ve always been a tough cookie, which I think has helped massively, and me and the children get amazing support from our local hospice, The Hospice of St Francis.
I’ve had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) with a wonderful specialist community nurse called Julie to help manage my problems and worries in a more positive way. Speaking to Julie really took a lot of weight off my shoulders and I always left the sessions feeling a lot lighter.
I’ve attended the Hospice’s HOPE (Help Overcoming Problems Effectively) course, where I’ve met some lovely people who are in a similar situation and understand what I’ve been going through. Even now the course has finished, we still meet regularly to chat.
Gracie has attended one-to-one therapy sessions, which she found really helpful because she didn't want to burden me with her worries. Daisy has really enjoyed Drawbridge - the Hospice’s art therapy group, and Louis and Daisy have both attended craft sessions.
The Hospice also holds Pony Days every six weeks in the summer where we get to meet other families in similar situations, but the icing on the cake was the Children’s Christmas Party, organised so beautifully by the Children’s Supportive Care team - with presents, a visit from Father Christmas, tea and games. It made us all feel very special.
I'm just really pleased that the children have been able to look at the Hospice as a safe place and, after I've gone, I know that they will still receive an enormous amount of support for however long they need.
I’d not been well enough to do any of the Hospice’s fundraising events before, but at the end of last year, I started feeling stronger so last December I took part in its Santa Dash with two of my three children, Daisy, 8, and Louis, 11, who were very excited about dressing up as Santa!
Doing the Santa Dash was my way of thanking the Hospice for all they’ve done for me and my children over the past 18 months; it was my way of giving back and it was so much fun being part of a sea of Santa’s for such a good cause.
When the Hospice was chosen to be the beneficiary of the St Albans Half Marathon, I saw the Walking Half Marathon event and I just thought: ‘why not?!’ I emailed my personal trainer at the gym I go to in Abbots Langley and asked if he thought I could do it - he did, so I applied there and then and added it to my bucket list of things I’d like to do for myself or the children!!
Being diagnosed with cancer changes your whole mind-set. You look at life in a whole new light. I don’t sweat the small stuff, I’m more laid back and if I want something, I get it!
I now have a small team behind me - a few friends have also signed up. Our team is called 'Easy Does It', I thought the name was quite apt - I'll be walking slow and steady!!
I’ve never done anything as physical as a fundraiser before. I’ve never even run a race so doing a half marathon distance is going to be a physical and mental challenge, which is really going to test me. I get tired just walking around town!
But it feels like it’s a good time to do something out of my comfort zone to support a fantastic cause that’s helped me so much.
I plan to start training at the gym and walking a bit further after Christmas and then I’ll start to push myself around February. I’m not going to find it easy but hopefully I’ll reach the finish line and it will deliver a huge sense of achievement for me.
I’m also hoping lots of people will sponsor me to help the Hospice and it will be fabulous if someone reads my story and learns more about the Hospice’s services and how they can help people like me living with a serious illness.
So many members of the Hospice team have gone - and are still going - out of their way to support me and the children and I hope I can thank them by raising money and awareness of all the good that they do every day of the year.”
If you’d like to sponsor Emma and “Team Easy Does It,” you can do so by visiting Emma’s Just Giving page here: https://www.justgiving.com/Emma-Young28/