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“Rachael and I never said goodbye, just that we’d see each other soon.”

For Laura, losing her beloved friend Rachael was one of the hardest things she’s ever had to go through. Now, she and her friend, Lia, plan to take on the Run Reigate Half Marathon in Rachael’s memory. Here she shares the story of how she and Rachael met and what inspired her to take on this amazing challenge. 

“Rachael and I met through our youngest children, who went to the same child minder. We used to see each other in passing at drop off, but never really spoke aside from the odd ‘hello’ at first. I can’t remember the exact moment that we started talking, but I do remember that our children used to have a bit of a love hate relationship and the child minder gave me Rachael’s number after they had a silly fall out. 

Then, just before her son’s second birthday, he was diagnosed with cancer – that was the start of our real friendship.

 I’m not sure that I helped much but would always keep in touch and offer support if they needed it. Thankfully, he’s better now.  

Rachael was diagnosed in 2019, the day before my daughter’s party.  

She texted me to ask if she could come round and it was then that she told me that she had cancer. We always knew that she wouldn’t get better and that was something I struggled to get my head around. I think one of the hardest things was not understanding the full extent of her illness. 

Before she went into the hospice, she was in and out of hospital. Sadly, due to complications she was unable to receive any further treatment and that was when she told me that she was going to visit St Catherine’s. 

We always thought that she was going to come home again, but in the end she just wasn’t well enough. 

It had reached a point where Rachael felt that she had had enough, and the doctors agreed that it was probably time.  

Her husband, Tim, text me to ask if I could come to see her one last time so that we could say goodbye. 

I felt sick the moment I got to the hospice car park; it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Knowing that it was final was so difficult but the hospice was so lovely.

Everyone was so friendly and always smiling – I couldn’t fault them at all.  

In the end, Rachael and I never said goodbye, just that we’d see each other soon (probably with a glass of prosecco) wherever we ended up. 

After Rachael was under the care of St Catherine’s, I signed up to the Run Reigate Half Marathon.  

The care and support that the hospice provided to Rachael and her family whilst she was there is what made me decide to run for St Catherine’s.

I’d known of the charity for a while and had known other families who were supported by the hospice through bereavements, so had thought about signing up before.

I’d then seen a post come up on Facebook talking about how COVID had meant that the hospice was suffering due to not being able run their normal fundraising events; they provide such amazing end of life care and I just thought it was such a great way to give back.  

I’d done 5k and 10k runs before, so why not do the half marathon?  

I’ll be running with my friend, Lia. 

I asked Lia to run with me but said I wouldn’t be offended if she just come along and support me, but she told me that she would run with me instead. It’s good to do it with someone as it helps to keep us both going. 

Being a nurse within the diagnostic imaging department at East Surrey Hospital, Lia was able to support Rachael through some of her procedures. 

We probably could’ve done more training but I do a quick 5k some mornings before work and longer runs on the weekend. Lia and I have also done a few longer runs together in the evenings. We haven’t quite managed to get up to the full 13.1 miles yet but I think we can based on our training. 

When I’m out running and I’m tired, I tell myself that Rachael never gave up. 

Rachael had two young children and she had to do everything she could to stay with them for as long as she could. 

She is our motivation. 

There was one occasion where Lia was running; her knee started to hurt and she thought about stopping, but she suddenly saw a rainbow. Another time, I was running up to the top of a slope and asked for some encouragement and a cat appeared out of nowhere and raced up the hill. It makes us think ‘that’s Rachael’, and keeps us moving. 

I’m really looking forward to the Half Marathon. 

I’m really excited – I know the atmosphere will be great and that there’ll be people there cheering us on. We were out in our vests the other day and met another supporter, Dave, who also runs for the hospice sometimes and helps out with training the marathon runners. He saw that we were also running for St Catherine’s and said that he’d try to come and cheer us on if he was free. 

When I told Rachael that I’d signed up for a Half Marathon with Lia, she told us we were ‘bonkers’.  

Whenever I questioned doing anything, Rachael always told me ‘you can do it’, and I think she’d be telling us that now. I know that she will be cheering us on in her little Northern accent with a glass of prosecco from wherever she is.”  

If you’d like to support Laura and Lia’s fundraising, you can donate at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/lauraandlia

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