How do you thank people for going out of their way to be kind when you face huge challenges in your life?
For someone who likes to give, it was a question that plagued me as my living room was turned into a garden centre and my shelves filled with beautiful cards and messages during treatment for breast cancer.
Image: Jackie Scully
It was an answer that, at the time, I found difficult to accept - explained to me as it was by a stranger trying to help unburden me of the guilt brought on by such incredible demonstrations of kindness.
But it is one that now, three years later, I fully understand.
People give because they want to help you at the time you need it the most. And the best way to show your gratitude, is not to pay it back, but pay it forward - gifting to others in need of the kindness that was once gifted to you.
It's for that reason that I decided not to count the days until the end of active treatment but make every day count. I couldn't keep up with the kindness being sent in my direction, so I didn't try. I channelled that energy into volunteering to ensure those best placed to make a difference had a few extra pounds and resources to do so. And, since that moment, I have never looked back. Volunteering has changed my world and introduced me to some of the most amazing people I have ever met.
Image: Jackie Scully
Paying it forward is a privilege and an honour. It's also one of life's greatest gifts. When the currency is kindness, you can do nothing but smile.
I wish I had discovered this as a child. I wish I had spent more time helping others than thinking about myself. I wish I had been more generous with my time. And all I wish now is that others find the sheer joy of paying it forward before life provides a not-so-subtle reminder as it did with me.
Serious illness showed me the true meaning of kindness. It's just a shame it had to take something so extreme to make me the person I should have been a long time ago.
I will never forget the cards, messages and gestures of kindness that made their way into my home and my heart back in 2014. And I am grateful that our marathon wedding and charity honeymoon trek are not just a celebration of our love, but a chance to ensure others can experience such kindness. There is no better wedding gift.
So, if you're surrounded by kindness unsure of how to show your gratitude, I urge you to give to others in need when you have the energy to do so. And, if you have yet to 'go to the well' (as my dad puts it), I would encourage you to start getting some credit in the bank! For there is nothing quite as amazing as the feeling of knowing that your actions, however small, are changing lives.
Life is short, so the time to pay it forward is now.
If you'd like to support our marathon wedding challenge and help us over the £15k fundraising target, you can donate here.