That's the official slogan of the race, which sums it all up perfectly. Women all over the country are being encouraged to 'gang up' on cancer and come out and walk or run in support of friends, family and loved ones who have had, or are currently fighting cancer. Race for Life is a really important fundraiser for research into the treatment for all kind of Cancers. It is the UK's only female-only fundraising event, and since it began in 1994, an incredible six million participants have helped to raise over £493 million - all of which has gone towards funding research into cancer treatment which will save lives.
A group of enthusiastic Kiosk customers (we must refrain from ever calling them Kustomers) and friends are running a very special Race for Life this year. We are celebrating the great and very lovely Hattie, who successfully and with great dignity fought cancer last year. We are also supporting another dear friend, Rachael, who is currently kicking all kinds of hell out of her Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Rachael was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease earlier this year, and this is her story.
Despite having to contend with the realities of living with cancer alongside being a mum to Jack and Libby and proud co-owner of two incredibly enthusiastic rescue dogs, Rachael is not one to take her diagnosis lying down. Instead, she has launched herself into several fundraising projects for the Lymphoma Society, is learning how to make superfood snacks a way of life, and has been modelling a very stylish Picc line (the line through which the chemotherapy drugs are delivered) cover made specially for her by a friend. Although she is on an intensive form of chemotherapy (escalated BEACOPP), Rachael has made the choice to face her diagnosis head-on, and has risen to the challenge with an astonishingly positive attitude and an enviable sense of humour.
Rachael has been joined in her fundraising efforts by her rather wonderful sister Rebecca - who, when learning that Rachael's treatment would mean the loss of her lovely long brown hair, decided that she would shave her own (also gorgeous and long) hair off in an act of sisterly solidarity. You can see the beautiful photos and story of the Bald Chick Challenge here:
Both Rachael and Rebecca donated their hair to the Little Princess Trust, which makes real-hair wigs for children who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment. The huge amount of money raised from the bald chick challenge has gone to the Lymphoma Society.
So, this Sunday, Hattie, Rachael and friends - including Kiosk at the Park photo supremo Gemma Kirkham, who is 36 weeks pregnant no less, will be running/walking/waddling in the Race for Life wearing pink tutus, massive smiles and some very special T-shirts, the logo on which has been created by Australian designer Danielle Tiedeman whose sister also successfully fought Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Look out for them - they'll be easy to spot!
The profits from the T-shirts that have been sold are also going to The Lymphoma Society.
The word 'inspirational' is used so much these days, to the extent that it almost seems like an understatement to use it here. But Rachael, and Hattie, and the courage, humour and determination with which they have faced this horrid disease head-on and fought it, are truly inspirational. There are many other stories like theirs, of young people who continue to live their lives around their treatment, who refuse to let cancer take over. In fact, nearly everybody has a cancer story. If it isn't a story about you, perhaps you have a sister, a brother; a mum or a dad or a friend who has battled with cancer. Or perhaps you are one of the millions of angry people who don't want to live in fear of one day having your own cancer story, and want to fight back now.
Rachael, Hattie and the 'Fighting for Friends' team of Bedford girls running the Race for Life this weekend are hoping to raise £1,500. We think they deserve far more than that. If you are able to sponsor them, have a look at their page here. It doesn't need to be much, just the cost of a cup of coffee (or two) will make a difference.
All the money that the participants in the Race for Life raise will go towards trying to write happy endings for stories like Rachael's. Please spare whatever you can and sponsor Bedford's very own ridiculously-clad pink tutu-ed ladies as they run, walk and waddle the 5K course around Bedford's beautiful Embankment in solidarity with all those thousands of cancer victims who need happy endings to their stories, never forgetting those whose endings weren't happy.