Julie has three children, three jobs at Derbyshire Community Health Services (DCHS) NHS Foundation Trust and is also studying with the Open University for a certificate in promoting public health.
In order to fit in all this as well as her London Marathon training, she’s up at 5am every day. It’s not easy but it’s something she’s determined to do… in the name of the woman who saved her when her world was at its bleakest:
“I’m not really built for running and running a marathon is really not easy. The training is brutal and now, three weeks before the big day, I wake up every morning with aches and pains.
But I am extremely thankful that I am even able to get up, get out and run. There are people suffering from lung cancer right now who would give anything to just walk to the end of their street. So I get on with it. I do it so something good can come from the loss my family and I suffered.
Liz was my world. She was my nearest, my dearest, my equilibrium in a world where my own mum couldn’t take care of me.
Liz was the mum of one of my sister’s school friends. My own mum suffered from mental health problems so Liz, informally, took both in me and my sister, Karen, and stepped into the role that our own mum couldn’t fulfil.
She supported me, nurtured me and taught me right from wrong. She rescued me from a life of social services. Without Liz, I would definitely not be where I am today.
In 2011, Liz developed a persistent cough and was generally unwell. She had numerous tests but nothing prepared me for the phone call I got in July. She had lung cancer, terminal lung cancer.
Liz was given six months to live if she didn’t have any treatment or 12 months if she did. Of course, she took the treatment.
She was resilient – as stubborn as an ox – but the chemo took its toll. She was on a roller coaster ride of sickness, fatigue, hair loss and memory loss. It was a very sad time for all of us and I think, deep down, we all knew that the matriarch of our family was not going to beat this… although we never discussed it openly.
On 31st October 2011, my Lizzie, our Lizzie lost her brave battle surrounded by her family. She was just 61.
She supported me, nurtured me and taught me right from wrong. She rescued me from a life of social services. Without Liz, I would definitely not be where I am today.Liz took Julie and her sister, Karen, in when they were young girls
After her death, I felt this huge gap – we all did – so I suggested we sign up for Race for Life. We needed a focus and felt that giving back to help fund cancer treatments could give us that.
It was tough; I hadn’t run for nine years but I was determined to do it. I got home from work at 11pm and just ran up and down my street. It hurt, it really hurt and the first mile was torture but I did it and we survived the race.
I decided to continue my running journey and continued to raise money for various cancer charities. But the London Marathon is special. For a runner, getting a place is the equivalent to winning the lottery so when my numbers came up I knew I wanted to run it in support of a UK specific lung cancer charity, one that funds research into lung cancer and supports those diagnosed with this awful disease. There is only one charity that does that – Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
I am humbled, grateful and excited to be able to run in one of the biggest road races in the world and to run for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.
As I said, it’s not been easy but I am lucky to have the support of my long-suffering husband and my three children Beth, Amy and Oliver. I like to think that seeing my commitment to training shows them that you can achieve anything in life if you want it enough.
Liz gave me all these opportunities. If it wasn’t for her I don’t know where I’d be right now. I owe her everything so getting up in the dark to get the miles in is the smallest of prices to pay. Especially if it means I can help someone else keep their Lizzie.”