Tuesday 4 September 2007

no need to laugh and cry...

I was saddened today to read of the death of Jane Tomlinson after a seven year battle against cancer. She was a truly remarkable and inspirational woman who raised in excess of £1.75m for cancer charities after her diagnosis, when she was told that she had six months to live.

I think what affected me most about was not so much the fact that she raised so much money (although this is clearly remarkable in its own right), but the manner in which she raised it: she ran three London marathons, a New York marathon and several Great North Runs. She is the only person to have completed a marathon whilst undergoing chemotherapy. As if that wasn't enough, she cycled from Lands End to John O'Groats, from Rome to Leeds and the 3,700 miles between the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and the Brooklyn Bridge in New York. The ones that really get me the most though are the triathlons: as well as competing in three London Triathlons (1500m swim, 40km cycle, 10km run), she successfully completed an Iron Man Triathlon in Florida.

Just think about that.

This woman had terminal cancer. She was told her cancer was incurable in 2000 and, as well as having a mastectomy, was often in excruciating pain in her bones, neck, hips, back and shoulders. As if that wasn't enough, she also developed a heart problem because of the medication regimes she was on.....but still she was able to complete a triathlon that consisted of a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle ride and a full marathon to finish. All in the same day - in fact inside sixteen hours.

How many people at their absolute physical peak could even hope to match that kind of feat? How many of us would even get to the starting line? As someone who has dabbled in triathlons myself, I was totally in awe of her achievements, particularly since I haven't done a triathlon since 2005 when I was first diagnosed with Transverse Myelitis.

She leaves behind a husband and three children, but she was a huge inspiration to thousands of people and a tremendous example of fortitude and determination. When I saw the news, I was moved to make a donation to the charity that bears her name, and if you feel so inclined, you can do the same thing too.

She was an amazing person who simply refused to be beaten. She used to say that “Death doesn’t arrive with the prognosis" and simply wanted to show that terminally ill people could lead an active and fruitful life.

No kidding.

What a life.

I really must pull my finger out and do some triathlons for the MS Society. I have absolutely no excuses.


  1. Y'know, I just thought she'd keep on going forever - it was quite the shock to see the news this morning.
    Very sad.

  2. She was amazing - I felt really sad seeing the news yesterday. But what phenomenal accomplishments before she died.

  3. That's a truly amazing and inspiring story.