25/12/2016 17:19 GMT | Updated 26/12/2017 05:12 GMT

12 Things Christmas Has Taught Me About Life - And Making Every Day Special

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Some described it as a Christmas miracle. Others thought it would never happen. But, when my partner of 13 years decided to propose to me on Christmas Day 2013, I really did think my life was complete.

Ask me why Christmas Day 2013 was the Christmas that changed everything, however, and I won't tell you about drinking fizz on the sofa or raising a glass to our engagement.


I'll tell you about the day before. The day I found a lump.

The trouble with attaching happiness to longed-for landmark life events is that you miss all that is beautiful about the world every day. I was rushing through life so fast wanting to tick off those moments society tells you are important, that I had forgotten what it was to live.

And then, on 17 January 2014, sat in a hospital consulting room being told I had breast cancer, I suddenly realised how easily that life can be taken away.

2014 was a big year - and not one spent planning the wedding favours and guest list. Here are the 12 things it taught me...

1) It's not what happens to you in life that defines you, it's how you choose to respond

2) You can go an awful long way with the right people by your side (marathon long in fact)

3) Life is too short to leave a good word unsaid (I contact someone every single day to tell them how much they mean to me)

4) Do something every day you'd be proud to put on your gravestone (morbid yes, but wise advice from the nurse who looked after me after my mastectomy).

5) Success isn't a nice life, it's a meaningful one

6) Volunteering is an honour and a gift (just thinking about the amazing people I have met along the way makes me smile)

7) Never take your body for granted and be grateful for the bits that work (a lesson you'd thought I would have learned already having my hip rebuilt in my 20s)

8) Exercise has the power to change the course of a day (for me, that's running)

9) If you want to achieve something in life, write it down

10) Say yes unless you really really should say no (you can't go on adventures, unless you get started)

11) Always wear good knickers, because you never know when you'll have to take them off (specific, but hospital appointments are often unpredictable)

12) Now is the only moment you know that you have

Christmas 2016 is special for lots of different reasons. After 16 years together, it is the last Christmas Duncan and I will be spending as single people.

2017's aisle isn't quite the aisle I imagined as a young girl. But, it's the aisle that represents everything we have come to know and love about this wonderful world of ours. And, it's a pretty long one - as the father of the bride is soon to discover.

Three years ago, getting married at 7.30am on the Cutty Sark in a running wedding dress designed by Dancing on Ice professional skater Frankie Seaman (David Seaman's wife) before running the London marathon would not have made the shortlist.

Now, it's just part of a big charity fundraiser wedding (that also includes a charity trek of the Great Wall of China) designed to thank two of the charities that made celebrating our engagement possible - Willow and Breast Cancer Care.

Being able to help other people find the strength to face another day is the greatest wedding gift we could ever ask for.


So, when you're raising a glass this Christmas, I ask you all to think not about the presents under the tree, but about health, happiness and the people that make you smile. Because that's all you'll ever really need.

And, I ask you to spare a thought for four utterly terrified runners (bride, groom, cousin and father of the bride) who are gearing up for one of the biggest days of their lives - in the name of charity.


Life is a hard journey and we want to inspire the world to make the most of that journey - one step at a time.

Wish us luck!

If you'd like to support us please visit:

I will be also writing about the big day and beyond on my blog and via Twitter @Jackie8.