Part time zookeeper and former vet, Emma Stansbie is challenging herself to the Great North Run this September in honour of her mum Margaret, who died from lung cancer in April 2018 at just 68 years old.
‘My mum was my best friend. We spent a lot of time together, especially when she moved to the North East to spend more time with my three children and my sister’s children.
We used to enjoy being ‘ladies who lunched,’ spending time together shopping and having lunch. She was fantastic, moving to County Durham just to be closer to our families and it came as a massive shock when she was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2017.
It’s because of her that I’m taking on the Great North Run. It will be a challenge because I haven’t done long distance running in a while but I’m up for the challenge.’
Mum’s lung cancer
‘It was only nine months before mum’s diagnosis that we lost her. She had previously smoked but gave up ten years before her death.
Sadly, mum’s lung cancer wasn’t found until it was too late. She had been suffering with back and shoulder pain and had been to the GP on several occasions but because she didn’t have a cough, they didn’t investigate further.
Eventually she was sent for a chest x-ray and the cancer was found but by this point, it had invaded her ribs. They started treatment and she received radiotherapy at The Freeman Hospital and chemotherapy at Shotley Bridge, but her oncology team made it clear that it wasn’t a curative measure.’
Mum was stoic and brave throughout, but her treatment wiped her out and she had horrendous side effects. She lost a lot of weight before her death.
‘The last three weeks of her life were spent at the hospital before she was discharged to a care home that she died in. Sadly, mum never received the hospice care she needed. It truly was an horrendous time.
My mum was my rock through some very difficult times. She was always there for us; she previously was a Children’s Nurse in Edinburgh before becoming a stay-at-home mum for us.’
How running helped
‘Prior to my mum’s death I’d never run at all. I don’t know what made me do it, but I decided to enter the Race for Life 5k.’
I think having lost my mum, the feeling of helplessness was overwhelming, and I found running helped me to focus on doing something positive.
‘I really put my mind to it and in July 2018 I ran the 5k after completing the couch to 5k challenge. I continued to run regularly and built up my distances with each run.
During lockdown I took part in a running challenge to run 21km every week for a local Down Syndrome charity in honour of my youngest son.
I decided to do the Great North Run because it’s a huge deal in the North East where I live!
It is going to be a real challenge because I haven’t run much over the last 18 months but I’m ready to push myself and commit to it.
‘I’m back running short distances regularly again and I’m looking forward to building up my distances again over the next few months.
I’m excited but also a bit daunted at completing the distance. Luckily, I’ve got a fantastic support group with my friends and family backing me all the way. I’ve already had some great sponsorship and my friends who have completed the Great North Run have been giving me advice.’
Show your support to Emma by donating to her Just Giving page.