29th January 2020

Grace Hadley

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The loss of a loved one often drives us to do remarkable things. After the passing of her mum Sue, from lung cancer, Grace Hadley took on the daunting 100km South Coast Challenge to raise funds for research into the disease.

Grace and her mum, Sue.

She said, “My mum, Sue, always put me first, no matter what. She would always be there when I needed her, and even when she struggled financially, she always paid for whatever I needed such as equipment for school or days out.

“When I was a teenager, we lost her mum and dad due to old age but seeing the way she looked after them was so inspiring. No matter what time of day it was, Mum would rush to help her parents when needed and I was expecting to do the same when she was older, but I had to do as much as I could when she was diagnosed.

“Mum was diagnosed in May 2017 with Stage 4 lung cancer. It had already spread to her brain and lymph nodes, and a couple of weeks later they confirmed she only had six months at best to live.

“Before her diagnosis, Mum had suffered a bad spell of migraines and was waiting for a CT scan. One day, however, she randomly lost control of one side of her body and was admitted to hospital, where they found a brain tumour and then realised it was because she had lung cancer. By this point it had travelled too far.

“Mum was absolutely devastated by the diagnosis. It was a massive shock to her, considering she had no symptoms whilst the cancer was still small and could have been managed. She felt very helpless and it was difficult to live knowing when and how soon she would die.

“12 months after her diagnosis, Mum passed away.

“There is a massive hole in our family now. I think about her every day, but what gets me the most is knowing the pain she went through. I have found that it has got harder as time goes on and it becomes so real that I lost her a lot earlier than I expected to. I was only 24 at the time.

“Celebrations such as Christmas and birthdays aren’t the same since. It is difficult for me when I hear my friends talking about what their mum is going to wear on their wedding day, or about looking after their children.

“I remember after her diagnosis Mum was told she must stay in the UK. As she had planned to go to Canada to feed wolves (her favourite animal) I arranged a private tour of the wolves at Paradise Wildlife Park. Mum thought it was a normal trip to a zoo and when she was there, she had to travel by wheelchair.

“The ranger said to my dad to go and stand over the bridge to watch the wolves being fed and she looked so disappointed, she thought that because she was in her chair, she could not get over the bridge and had to miss out. When the ranger said it was because she was feeding the wolves herself, she could not believe it. It was the happiest I had seen her since her diagnosis, and I felt that it was close to ticking that off her bucket list rather than going to Canada.

“Lung cancer wasn’t something I knew much about before Mum’s diagnosis. After my mum’s diagnosis I started researching into lung cancer and I can’t believe we still can’t find a cure today. But at least we can help people to live better for longer. It’s the main reason I took part in the South Coast Challenge last summer.

“This is a 100km walk that runs from Eastbourne to Arundel along the south coast and takes approximately 24-36 hours to complete with continuous walking. With sponsorship money, I wanted to raise awareness of lung cancer because of how much damage it can do to someone’s body so quickly with no symptoms, and to aid research into a cure for it.

“Unfortunately, due to a previous injury, and tendinitis returning, I had to pull out after 50km, but throughout the event I have never met such fantastic people. People were asking me if I wanted to walk with them rather than alone, offering me medical help and to carry my bag for me till the next stop.

“There was constant encouragement from everyone. In the middle I was with two ladies who were amazing; however they both said they had tried before but had to pull out at 25k and 35k, so I’m glad it wasn’t just me! I’m also very grateful for the medic who helped me at 23k as she was the reason I was able to carry on.

“ It took me an additional five hours to reach the finish line with my bad ankle and leg but I at least got one medal!

“I since recently signed up for an Easter Walk which I will be completing it on the Easter Saturday. It is another 50k as I promised to do to everyone who sponsored me, and this time my friend is also doing it with me. We will be continuing to share my original donation page so you never know, we may get a few more donations!”