Today would have been my grandad's 67th birthday, and is the first one without him here. I miss him more than words can say, and will never stop feeling like he was taken from us too soon - although I don't think there's ever a time to lose someone that isn't too soon.
I spent a lot of the morning in tears, which I know he would have hated. So instead I decided to turn the sadness and anger into something more productive and went for my first proper run. Definitely a long way to go, but still proud of my first one. I've been putting it off for a while thinking I wasn't ready, but I guess everyone has to start sometime!
In October 2012, our family got the devastating news that my grandad had glioblastoma multiforme, the most common and most aggressive malignant primary brain tumour. After the hardest 10 months of our lives watching the strongest, most amazing person we all knew (not many people would be eating pie and mash an hour after brain surgery!) fight something he knew he couldn't win, he passed away in August 2013 and not a day goes by where we don't miss him. He was more than just a grandad - he was a second dad, a best friend and the one that always helped me achieve anything I wanted to do. I wouldn't be half the person I am if it wasn't for him, and seeing how strong he was during his entire battle is just another reason he is one of the biggest inspirations in my life, and shows exactly why he managed to touch the lives of everyone he ever met - and it was because of this that I wanted to help honour his memory, and help other families that go through what we have.
While helping to care for him during his illness, exercise became my main outlet. I honestly think one of the main reasons I enjoy the 30 Day Shred so much is because every time I do it, I remember how therapeutic it was to help get out my frustration on the hardest days. Every time I felt like my strength was waning or the sadness was taking over, the last thing I'd ever want was for him to see that, so I used to work out or go for long walks, and now exercise has become so much more than just a coping mechanism - it's become a big part of my life.
Because of this, I'll be running the Great North Run in September with my dad and auntie for The Brain Tumour Charity in his memory to try and raise as much as we can for a woefully underfunded cause - over £500 million is spent on cancer research in the UK every year, yet less than 2% of that is spent on brain tumours. Research offers the only real hope of dramatic improvements in the diagnosis, treatment and management of brain tumours, and so we'll be doing everything we can to help such an important cause.
You can donate over on my Just Giving page, and any donations to a cause so close to my heart would be greatly appreciated! I'll be posting about my training and progress as I go along, as well as any fundraising plans, so be sure to keep checking back for updates.