I write this, sat on the 9:19 to Victoria, chugging towards my eighth (probably) Race for Life event.
I’ve taken part most years since being diagnosed with cancer. Thankfully, I’ve been ‘NED’ (No Evidence of Disease) ever since.
For a couple of years I also worked on Cancer Research UK’s fundraising events, in a digital capacity, and loved pretty much every minute.
I’m insanely loyal to the brand.
But I’m not just taking part to show how thankful I am that, thanks to research, I’m still alive. I’m taking part to say that, thanks to research, I’m alive and (pause for effect) an OLDER mum.
I got pregnant when I was 40. Not at all unheard of these days. (In fact, around one in five mothers are 35 or older when they give birth now, ONS). Still, old enough for people to ask the inevitable: “Why did you leave it so late?” “Was it an IVF conception?” “Do you wish you’d done it years ago?”
Obviously, I don’t mind people showing an interest. And I know that, at times, the unspoken thought hovering in the air is, “I wouldn’t have left it that late”. Well, neither would I, if I hadn’t been busy shitting myself for decades about childbirth. But a diagnosis of Tokophobia (extreme fear of childbirth) is very difficult to explain.
Still, I got through it with a planned C-section and a lot of support from D, friends and family.
Now, I’m just relieved it’s over with and I have a brilliant girl to love.
But the worry doesn’t end there.
I do calculations in my head all the time.
When she’s 10 I’ll be 50.
When she leaves school I’ll be 56.
I’ll be 60 when/if she graduates Uni.
If she has a baby at 40, I’ll be 80. This one is a proper killer and gets me every time I think of it. I might never meet my grandchildren.
Race for lives
Today, I’m up early to run (OK, let’s face it, walk. Perhaps briskly…) to thank researchers for keeping me here. For allowing me the chance to be a mum. But also to try to get a bit fitter and healthier so I can grow old well. And see my daughter grow old too, I hope.
As the old cliché goes, with children, the days are long but the years are short. Two-and-a-half years have gone by in the blink of an eye and yet, somehow, I feel 100 years older.
The physical, mental and emotional load of being a parent is a heavy one. But for all the weariness of it, I really want to be around for O. If only to act as a living cautionary tale.