"I am running the London Marathon to honour my mother’s memory and to celebrate her life."

On Sunday, Joanna Cook will run the London Marathon to celebrate her mother’s life and to say thank you to Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice. This is her story.

Joanna's Mum Julia
Joanna's Mum Julia.
London Marathon runner Joanna
Joanna in her Team Incredible running vest.

My mother, Julia Lee, was an inspirational teacher in the East End of London, as well as the primary carer for my severely disabled father Roger, for over 30 years. She ran the London Marathon for charity herself in 1987.

Sadly, she was diagnosed with cancer in December 2016 and, despite a very brave fight, she died almost exactly a year later at Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.

Why I'm running

I am running the London Marathon to honour my mother’s memory and to celebrate her life. I also wanted to thank the team at Thorpe Hall for their invaluable support and to ensure that that something positive came out of a truly horrendous time for me and my sister.

Thorpe Hall was a haven at the end of a very difficult journey. It was the first time that anybody offered my sister and me proper support when we were caring for our mother. My mother was treated with dignity and respect, and my sister and I finally felt like people as opposed to statistics.

The staff were so compassionate to us in the hours before her death that I wanted to say thank you. I had found running a positive coping strategy in the stressful times after her terminal diagnosis so I knew it was a way I could give something back.

When I found out I had a place running the marathon with Team Incredible, I felt tearful and very emotional – in a positive way.

My training journey

To train, I have been running four times a week and have built up my longer runs gradually. My last long run was 22 miles and I have been following the London Marathon training programme.

The fundraising team at Thorpe Hall have been in contact with plenty of support, which is really beneficial and helps me to keep up my momentum.

I am aiming to run between 4 hours and 4 hours 20. My best tip is to build up those longer miles gradually in order to avoid injury.

My inspiration

I originally hoped to raise £2,000, but have exceeded this already. I am now aiming for £2,600 which will mean I am raising £100 per mile of the marathon.

My friends and family have been brilliant and exceptionally generous supporting my fundraising. Those closest to me know just how hard it has been dealing with grief over the past 16 months, especially as I lost my father nine years ago.

On the day I will have my husband, twin sons, sister, her partner and my two nieces cheering me on to the finish line.

When the going gets tough when I am running, I think of my mum and those that have sponsored me. I think of the staff and all those being supported by Thorpe Hall.

Support Joanna – or join Team Incredible next year

You can donate to Joanna’s London Marathon cause via her JustGiving page.

If Joanna's story has left you feeling inspired to take on the London Marathon 2020, why not register your interest to be part of Team Incredible now?
Email thorpe.fundraising@sueryder.org or call 01733 225 999.

Author

Joanna Cook

Daughter of patient

Joanna Cook

Joanna, a teacher, has been training hard in preparation for the London Marathon. This will be the second time she has taken on the iconic challenge. She is running to honour her mum’s memory and to support Sue Ryder Thorpe Hall Hospice.