In August 2016, Katie’s dad Warren was diagnosed with the cruel and rare motor neurone disease (MND).
This was a complete shock to Warren and his family and friends. Within a week of his diagnosis, Tina from our Manorlands Hospice came to see the family to discuss his diagnosis and his palliative care.
“Tina's role is not an easy one,” says Katie. “Each day she has contact with devastated family members, dealing with disbelief and heartache about the reality they never thought they would have to face.
“Nurses like Tina provide expert care and emotional support to patients and their families who are suddenly facing the frightening unknown that a life-changing diagnosis brings,” she continues. “It just so happened that that week in August it was my house; my family; my dad.”
Shock, sadness – and inspiration
“Anyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and am an ‘emotional person’,” says Katie. “In the first few days and weeks after my dad’s diagnosis, I felt like I was already grieving him. The shock and sadness of his diagnosis were just overwhelming.
“It's extremely hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel with MND – it's a cruel disease – but my dad's attitude to his diagnosis is inspiring. He's ‘getting on with it’ and still making plans because there's more fun to be had.
“We didn't ask for Tina to be part of our lives but I am already very certain that we will forever be grateful that she is,” Katie adds, “because Tina and the team at Sue Ryder will do everything they can to help support us and allow him to ‘get on with it’ for as long as he can. Then when he can’t, they will continue to support us all through what will be an incredibly difficult and upsetting time.”
“I want to raise as much for the Sue Ryder angels as I can”
In January 2017, Katie decided she wanted to complete a series of challenges to fundraise for Sue Ryder.
“I want to raise as much awareness and money for the Sue Ryder angels as I can. And ultimately I am doing this for my dad to make him proud,” she says.
She signed up for the Leeds Half Marathon in May, having never run that far, and to do the Yorkshire Tough Mudder in July. She is determined not to stop there and plans to sign up to more challenges to keep raising money. So far she has raised a fantastic £2,400 - 480% more than her original £500 target!
“I find my dad’s attitude inspiring and want to do what I can to emulate it,” she says. “I also want to immerse myself in something that helps me to keep positive, rather than allowing myself to go to a dark place and think too much about my dad’s situation when there’s nothing I can do to change it,” she explains.
“Running has never been my favourite pastime, but in the last year or so I have been running more and find it good for my heart and mind. I’m also driven by the challenge, and want to prove to myself that I can do it!”
Realising life is so precious
On Easter Sunday, exactly four weeks before the Leeds Half Marathon, Katie suffered a major setback: she was diagnosed with blood clots in her left leg. Following medical advice, she was forced to pull out as she would be putting herself in too much danger.
“I actually found the news that I couldn’t run harder to swallow than my diagnosis!” she jokes. “I’d been so determined to complete this run for my dad and I didn’t want to let anyone down after raising so much money. I knew had to accept my GP’s medical advice, but the only way I could do that was to enter another half marathon.”
Katie is now running the Birmingham Half Marathon on Saturday 1st July.
“Some people think I’m crackers but this is so important to me and, if anything, it has made me even more determined," explains Katie. "It has brought home that, like my dad, there might be a time when my body won’t allow me to complete these types of physical challenges.
“I also think there are thousands of people facing tougher challenges every day, so there’s no reason why I can’t do this!” she asserts.
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