In October, Belinda took on the Yorkshire Marathon, alongside ten other Team Incredible runners, in support of our Manorlands Hospice in Oxenhope. In her own words, she explains why it meant so much to run the race and raise over £3,000 for Sue Ryder.
In October 2017, my boyfriend John received the devastating diagnosis of stage four melanoma. He was 33 years old. I remember being told by the consultant, and thinking "thank God we finally know what’s wrong". Little did we know how aggressive it would be.
Immunotherapy treatment kept the cancer contained until April when we were told it had spread to various parts of his body. We cried – we cried for the future we had lost together and for our son, three year old Juhi.
Arriving at Manorlands Hospice
When John began to suffer from increasing pain, our nurse suggested that he went into a hospice. Initially, we were both reluctant as we had the wrong assumption that a hospice was simply where people go to die. But we discussed it and decided that we wanted him to get the pain sorted so that we could enjoy family time together.
We went to Sue Ryder Manorlands the next day. As soon as we arrived it was fabulous. Nurses settled John into his room, which was spacious and surrounded by trees.
I simply cannot praise the staff enough - each and every one helped us through our worst nightmare.
The first couple of days he was there he was back to being my John - laughing and joking. Every time I spoke to him he told me how amazing the staff were. Everyone was welcome to visit – day or night, and our son Juhi loved running around the beautiful gardens.
A special day
Back in April, when we were told the cancer had spread, we decided to get married and set a date for 21st July. As it became clear that he would not be well enough to return home, we discussed moving our wedding date forward.
On 30th June, John and I got married at the hospice. What a fabulous day – the sun was shining and nearly all our favourite people were there. The staff at Manorlands helped with everything, from food to decorations and photos. The wonderful Chaplain helped us through all of the logistics beforehand and gave us a beautiful blessing on the day.
Just five days later, John died at Manorlands – his brother and I were with him, holding his hands. My wonderful John had gone. It was my worst nightmare but Sue Ryder were there to support me, Juhi and John’s family and friends.
Taking on the Yorkshire Marathon to remember John
During the worst parts of John’s illness and following his death, running has kept me sane. For those miles I can forget that I’ve lost one of my favourite people – someone full of life; always happy, laughing and inspiring others.
I decided to enter the Yorkshire Marathon to remember John. It wasn't just special because it was my first marathon; the race took place in mine and John’s favourite city on the one year anniversary of his diagnosis.
Most importantly, I was raising money for Manorlands, who were truly amazing during the worst time of our lives. I simply cannot praise the staff enough - each and every one helped us through our worst nightmare.
When I was tired and didn’t feel my legs could continue, my memories of John helped me. He was always my biggest fan...
Training was slow – I’m definitely not speedy! When I was tired and didn’t feel my legs could continue, my memories of John helped me. He was always my biggest fan and knew how hard I was working towards this goal.
I cried when I crossed the finish line but I don’t mind – I know he was watching over me.
For anyone wanting to run for Sue Ryder – do it! They provide invaluable support for individuals and families at the hardest time of their lives. We could not have asked for anything more – the staff are truly amazing.
So far, Belinda has raised over £3,000 so that Sue Ryder Manorlands can continue providing the specialist care and bereavement support that made such a difference for her, John and their son Juhi.
To support Belinda’s incredible achievement and help us be there for more people when it matters, you can donate and read more about her and John’s story on her Justgiving page.
If reading about Belinda's marathon journey has inspired you to take on your own challenge, then sign up to be part of Team Incredible – we’d love to have you.
Yorkshire Marathon Runner
Belinda took on the 2018 Yorkshire Marathon in memory of her late husband John, raising over £3000 for Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice.