Before she was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic or "secondary" cancer, Sukhy Bahia was eager to return to her "normal." One way to kick start that? Running the Virtual TSC London Marathon!
But, after her diagnosis in August 2022, Sukhy was unsure whether she'd make the 26.2 miles. She soon decided she was more determined than ever, completing the course later that year.
When my oncologist signed me off in March 2022 after less than two years since I’d been diagnosed with breast cancer, I could feel the panic set in. She told me that my next appointment would be in 2025! Three years seemed such a long stretch.
But, after a short time, my fear turned to relief. I could finally go about my life and start rebuilding my "normal."
I signed up for the London Marathon but was (thankfully, in hindsight) rejected. I decided to take part in the Virtual TCS London Marathon instead. Most importantly, I wanted to raise money for a charity very close to my heart - one that had helped me through my initial diagnosis.
The marathon symbolised more to me than personal achievement
And completing this marathon was so important to me. I wanted to challenge myself and challenge my body. I found solace in running when I was first diagnosed with cancer. At that time, running had kept my mental health on track. Being able to complete a marathon meant that my body wasn't failing me, and, despite everything, I still had my health.
In all honesty, I wasn't sure I would be able to do it. But, eventually, my innate determination decided it for me; I'd be fine with some proper training and new running shoes.
Unfortunately, however, my "cancer-free" time was short-lived. I was diagnosed with incurable cancer in August 2022.
My second cancer diagnosis devastated me
At first, I was shocked by how I could look the way I did and have Stage 4 cancer.
In the movies and on TV, Stage 4 cancer patients are depicted as pale-skinned, bald, weak with fatigue, and confined to their beds. I didn't match this picture - well, not yet, anyway.
I had been experiencing chest pain, which was confirmed to be cancer in my bones, along with multiple tumours throughout my liver.
I completely fell apart.
I wasn't sure how to complete this mammoth task I'd set for myself. What would I go through over the next few months? Would I be strong enough to run a marathon?
Would I be alive?
And though they meant well, various people's comments added to the pressure. "Are you sure you can do this?" was one. "That's a really long distance; how about doing a half-marathon instead?" was another.
But I still had something to prove, so I pushed on
I wasn't feeling my strongest, but I decided that, yes, I would still complete the distance.
I needed to do the marathon to prove that I wasn't about to die. I didn't want to be seen as the "typical cancer patient." Whatever that meant.
And I did it. I walked 26.2 miles over approximately 10 hours. It was one of the most demanding challenges I have ever set myself. I know that without the support of my friends and family walking alongside me on the day, I would've crumbled halfway through.
Cancer patients can do extraordinary things, even in the darkest of times
I think a lot of the time, people think that Stage 4 cancer patients have given up and have nothing else left to give.
Yet, sometimes, Stage 4 cancer patients do something so extraordinary they give themselves a reason to keep putting one foot in front of another and live their lives as best they can.
NPS-IE-NP-00704 March 2023