Our marriage is a marathon not a sprint!
At 7:30am on 23 April, I’ll be marrying my partner on the Cutty Sark in Greenwich. We’re then going to celebrate together – by running the London Marathon!
It might not be everybody’s idea of a fun wedding day, but let me explain why we’re doing it.
We want to offer a message of hope everyone waking up to the reality of a serious illness every day. We also want to give back to Willow Foundation and Breast Cancer Care.
These two charities helped us through some tough times after I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
I was aged 32 at the time, and had got engaged to my partner of 13 years just three weeks before.
Unlike my partner, Duncan, I’m no runner. But running made me feel alive during treatment.
In fact, I ran my first ever 10k during chemo with no hair and my acute oncology card in my back pocket!
Running gave me a reason to get out in the fresh air. It helped me show my body that cancer could take a lot, but it wouldn't define me.
It also brought us closer – even if Duncan was always miles ahead.
We chose to run the marathon for Willow and Breast Cancer Care, as they changed my life in two ways.
First, they helped me realise that I didn’t have to be a cancer patient. I didn’t have to be brave. I could be a young woman with dreams and ambitions and the person my partner fell in love with all those years ago.
But, more than that, they introduced me to volunteering.
I decided early on that I didn't want to count the days until the end of active treatment. I wanted instead to make every day count. Volunteering fills my days with meaning and my life with the most incredible people you could ever wish to meet.
I chose to run the marathon in London because it’s the city that saved me. It saved me with its hospitals, surgeons and life-saving treatment.
It saved me with its landmarks - I used to walk to different ones when recovering from mastectomy surgery.
It saved me with its kindness – this city is packed with amazing volunteers if you know where to look. In so doing, it made me believe that anything is possible and that I, too, could be a runner.
I was proud to run through the city streets with my hens for the Cancer Winter Run on 5 February.
I am proud to train on those streets every week as I run along the Thames to work.
And, I will be proud to return to them again in April to represent volunteers everywhere.
I hope to inspire others facing challenges to go further than they ever thought possible. You really can do anything with the right people by your side.
See you on the start line.
You can also follow the bride and find out more about her #ReasonToRun on @Jackie8
Breast Cancer Care: www.breastcancercare.org.uk