11/05/2017 11:00 BST | Updated 11/05/2017 11:00 BST

Why Giving Back Has Helped Me Move Forward

It is amusing to me that my new mantra of 'every holiday's a honeymoon' should not apply to our actual honeymoon.

Twin beds, hiking boots and micro towels, scrambling up and over giant steps to get to dinner and a team of strangers to share each day does not your average honeymoon make.

But, having run a marathon on our wedding day and having experienced the utter joy of gifting back the biggest event in our life so that others might find the strength to face another day, I really couldn't think of a better way to do it.


Image: Unsplash

As we prepare to trek the Great Wall of China, I have been reflecting on what has, for me, been a real trip of a lifetime since diagnosis day in 2014. When Duncan proposed to me on Christmas Day 2013, I genuinely thought my life would change for the better. Little did I know, thanks to the lump I discovered in the shower just the day before, that it already had.

Cancer is no gift and it should never be described as such. But, the chance to look in the mirror at 32 and realise that I didn't like the face staring back, was a transformative moment for me. I didn't hate my life. I didn't hate my body. But, I didn't spend enough time living life and loving that body. So as I looked in that mirror, I remember feeling sad that I was looking at a person who would leave no mark on this world.

Now I feel I have made a mark - albeit small - by working with cancer charities, supporting others and finding a way to make each day meaningful. Having volunteering in my life has changed me and, I hope, will help change the lives of those around me.

Even with the annual checks, monthly sobering reminders (whether that be the death of a friend or an unusual pain) and daily dose of life-saving drugs, I don't feel like a cancer patient. And, in many ways, I never did.

For me, the memory of that time is fading and I know that when I step off that plane in a few weeks, I must face a new challenge.

I must keep moving forward, without losing sight of all the things I've learned.

But, whatever happens in the future, I will always take comfort in the fact that We pulled off the wedding of my dreams and it was one focused on celebrating the importance of those who help you along the way.

I joke with my husband now that I am glad he took 13 years to propose. Had he not, our house would be packed with happy memories, but little meaning. When I look at my wedding ring now I am reminded not just of the person who gives me a reason to smile each and every day, but of all the people who made our love possible.


Image: Natasha Hurley

All I hope for everyone who has followed our journey is that you, too, find a way to move forward in your lives, to greet each day with a smile and each night with a feeling of gratitude.

The days may be long, but the years are painfully short.

And, whether or not you have had that fact tested in your life, it's one we must all remember.

If you'd like to help us on our way, you can add to our fundraising pot here.