Friday, 29 November 2013

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Happy birthday, my darling Diane...


Today's a special day. And a very difficult one. It's Diane's birthday. One of the days they warned me about even though I didn't need anyone to tell me how I knew I was going to feel.

This is the first birthday I didn't wake her with a kiss on her forehead, with a card I had pretended had just been mysteriously delivered without a stamp, and a present she'd made me promise not to get because she didn't want so much spent on her. It's the only time I ignored her. Honest.

Today was the first of her birthdays for over 20 years that I couldn't her watch her smile as she read the card even though I said the same thing every year.

"Together, forever, All my love, Your David."

I wrote it in the card I gave her today too...

Diane was born in Salford 72 years ago today. Born into a world plunged into darkness by war, a war that at that time had not yet turned in our favour. It must have been an uncertain time to bring a child into the world but it was the start of what would become a wonderful life.

Everyone who met Diane was the better for it. I was lucky enough to be with her for 21 of her birthdays and I know if I hadn't been, my life would have been much poorer. There would be less good in me now.

That's why I need her in my life forever. Together, forever. Like the card says every year. Like my card says today. She's still so much a part of my life and she's the inspiration for me to run this marathon in Rotterdam in just a few short months around the streets where she grew up.

She'll be with me every step of the way. My birthday girl. So today seemed the perfect day to officially launch the Running With Diane campaign it symbolises how I feel. I'm not running "for" Diane, I feel I'm running WITH her.
And the idea is to get loads of other people running with her, too. This movement will run and run (if you pardon the pun) with local events, runs and challenges across Manchester and the North West throughout 2014 and beyond.

All raising urgently needed cash for the charity Breast Cancer Care, and the incredible work they do helping sufferers and their families who are facing the same agonies, doubts, fears and pain that Diane and I did.

For the marathon in Rotterdam, we're aiming to raise £100,000 for Breast Cancer Care by hook or by crook, by pink iced cupcake or by whatever Great Beefy Bake-off idea I can come up with between now and then as well as donations and sponsorship. (Note that donating on the Breast Cancer Care page means they get more money - without the Just Giving admin charge, in other words).

That target looks a tall order now as I stand at the bottom looking up at it, but little by little we'll climb up it step by step, pound by pound (penny by penny if we have to!) and we will get there.

And then some, hopefully.

We'll smash it.

What's stopping us?

Do it for everyone who finds themselves closing their eyes on a loved one's birthday, wishing they could still wake them with a kiss on the forehead

Monday, 25 November 2013

Bolton News, November 25, 2013

Former Bolton News man loses 40% of his weight to run in memory of his wife

My story, given a good show in the local paper yesterday. Thanks to everyone at the Bolton News, where I have fond memories of working back in the (very) early 90s.
Here’s the full text of it…

A former Bolton News journalist has pledged to lose 40% of his bodyweight in just over 12 months to run a marathon in memory of his wife who died of breast cancer.
Dave Beevers, of Smithills, Bolton, Lancs, who turned 58 last week, has already lost seven stones since January and aims to lose at least three more before he lines up with the other 10,000 runners at the start of the Rotterdam Marathon in April in the city where Diane spent her childhood.
So far, as well as the weight loss, Dave has dropped six shirt sizes and lost six inches off his waist.
He only joined the gym at Smithills Sports Centre in April which means when he lines up to start his big race next year it will have taken him less than 12 months to go from not being able to walk for more than a minute on a treadmill to running over 26 miles.
He is now a member of Burnden Road Runners, based at Smithills Sports Centre. Oh, and he aims to do the marathon in under four hours.

Wife Diane, a former licensee of the Sally Up Steps pub in Chorley Old Road (now the Nam Ploy Thai restaurant),  died of metastatic breast cancer on February 6 this year aged 71 after six years of treatment including a mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and tablets.
When she came off her five-year course of tablets last November, both she and Dave believed they had beaten the disease and started making plans for the future.
One of the plans which had been shelved during the illness was for Diane to take Dave to Rotterdam to show him where she grew up.
Sadly, it wasn't to be.
Diane complained of feeling unwell last Christmas and after a few weeks her condition worsened. She was rushed to hospital where scan revealed the cancer had returned with a vengeance. She died just six days after being admitted.
Dave said: "I just felt numb. I sat there in a side room on the ward and couldn't take it in. It seemed like one minute she was there and we were making plans and the next minute she was gone.
"I felt not just alone, I felt vulnerable and alone. After her funeral I realised how much in bad shape I was. I was nearly 24 stone, diabetic and could see me ending up in a wheelchair in a couple of years if I didn't do something.
"So I decided to join a gym and sort myself. I had no-one to fall back on for support now. It was up to me and me alone. I wasn't to become the sad, lonely, fat old man in the corner house I was determined to reinvent myself and make Diane proud."
He added: “I am not a runner, never have been. But I have become passionate about it and the only reason I can think of is that Diane has decided I needed to make a difference.”
Although Diane spent her childhood in Rotterdam, she was born in Salford. Dave decided to set himself a new goal he entered the City of Salford 5K in September and raised more than £1,600 for the charity Breast Cancer Care.
He was bitten by the running bug. Having not run for 40 years since he was at school, Dave suddenly found himself running 10Ks around the north west and then the idea of running a marathon in Diane's childhood city took shape.
Now he aims to raise a massive £100,000 for the charity through sponsorship and a series of fund-raisers leading up to his ultimate challenge next April.
He said: “I want to raise as much as I can for Breast Cancer Care and the amazing work they do with families affected by this horrendous disease and with people identifying with our story in Rotterdam as well as over here because of the links with Diane, I don’t see why we can’t smash through the target.”
To support his fund-raising activities, he has started the online community blog Running With Diane.
Dave explains: "Those three words sum up how I feel when I’m running. I didn't want people to say I was running 'in her memory' or 'for' her. To me, I was running WITH her and that was an important point for me to get across. She is my inspiration and driving force.
"Every time I run, she runs with me. We have done everything together for over 20 years. Why should now be any different?

"Cancer's not beaten her. It took her body but it couldn't touch what made her special. We'll always have that. Especially when we're running together."

Monday, 11 November 2013

'I strive to be as good as her, but it's tough'

SO the clock is ticking (see the last post) and my first attempt at a marathon comes ever closer. It’s fair to say I think about it a lot – some days with excitement and relish, others with abject fear.
Then I remember what this is all about.
This is not about running 26 miles. This about running a lifetime, one which began in Salford one of those lifetimes ago. It is a journey run by Diane Beevers, a brave and courageous woman who was snatched from me by cancer on February 6, 2013.
But her journey hasn’t ended. It’s my job, my role in life now, to make sure it never does.
She still fills my heart, my thoughts and I still turn to her for help. The essence of what made her Diane, what made her so perfect, will never be lost. Cancer – or anything else for that matter – can’t get at that thing that made her special. Everyone who has lost a loved one knows that to be true.
Sure, it can attack her body, and it did so brutally, but it can’t touch the spirit of who she was. And so she will always be here, guiding me, ticking me off when I screw up and pushing me to be better than I am. I still feel the need to prove myself to her, especially now.
I strive to be as good as her but it’s tough.
That’s what this is all about, I think. Doing her justice. Trying to be half as wonderful as she was and to make her proud of me.
That’s why I have launched Running With Diane. Helping her help others now in the same way she was always so ready to help others when she was alive.
And yes, there’s guilt in there. Guilt at not having cherished each moment with her as much as I should have.
Someone snapped their fingers, and Diane was taken. That’s how it felt because it all happened so quickly in the end. And I hadn't said I loved her often enough. We always had fun together and (honestly) rarely quarrelled if at all. Certainly no raised voices in 20 years. But still it fells like I could have laughed more with her, loved her more, cherished her more.
Look at the person you love most and imagine them not there. Horrible thought, isn’t it. We shudder and convince ourselves not to think about it.
But trust me, think about it.
Think about it every minute of every day and thank whatever God you follow that they’re still beside you right now. And show them every minute of every day how you feel about having them around.
We can’t do anything about when we die, but we can always make the time between now and then better.

No, this isn't about running 26 miles (and a bit). It's about much bigger, more important things than that. It's about loss, grief, guilt, anger, pain, injustice... all coming together in a need to make a difference. So join up, share with your friends on Twitter and Facebook and shout it from the rooftops. The bigger the Running With Diane mob becomes, the more good we can do and the more people we can help.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

The story begins...

FOR 40 years since leaving school, I had only ever run for a bus. And I was so slow I still usually missed it.
To be honest, I’m not sure I even ran that far at school. There were a couple of us I seem to remember trailing far behind the pack and looking for short cuts through Sefton Park in Liverpool so we could cheat and rejoin the rest later in the cross-country race.
But that all changed in February this year. I lost my brave and beautiful wife Diane to metastatic breast cancer after seven years of battles, chemo, radiotherapy, tablets and pain.
The loss was devastating, particularly as her coming off the treatment in November last year had given us hope that we had got over the worst. We had already started making plans to do things we had put on hold when she fell ill again over Christmas and New Year. She grew steadily weaker and finally succumbed on February 6.
With Diane suffering so much, my own health had gone downhill, too, without realising quite to what extent. I had been diagnosed in 2011 with Type 2 diabetes and in January this year, I was “morbidly obese” (as they so scarily put it) at nearly 23 stones, my back was starting to object to the weight it was having to carry and my legs were starting to give way.
Now I had lost Diane, I felt alone, weak and vulnerable. Thankfully, she told me to do something about it. And thankfully, I listened to her (as usual).

Diane was my inspiration in life, and she will remain that forever. What happened next is down entirely to her.

I had to sort myself out. For a start, there were two wonderful doggies grieving for their mum who needed a dad who didn’t run out of breath 50 yards into a walk.
So I joined a gym over the road on April 19. On the day I signed up, I couldn’t walk for more than a minute on the treadmill let alone run.
Then, gradually, session by session, I found myself doing more and more. But I needed a target. So I decided to aim for a 5K run and chose one in September as my goal – or maybe Diane chose it. It was the City of Salford 5K, and Salford is where she was born.

I ran it. With Diane. Not for Diane or in memory of Diane. But WITH Diane. She was with me every step of the way – after all, we had done everything together for the past 20 years, why should it be any different now. And that's where the Running With Diane in aid of Breast Cancer Care idea took off.

Diane still fills my heart, my thoughts and I still turn to her for help. I can still feel her hand in mine, her head on my shoulder and hear her voice in my ear. So don’t tell me she’s gone. Because she hasn’t.

That's why I was Running With Diane. And will continue to run with her, every race I do.

Late on in the preparations for the race, I found myself in front of the computer at home, one Sunday morning, thinking – as usual – about Diane. And I started to write. And as I wrote, as I expressed for the first time my emotions from this terrible year, I felt I needed to help others who were going through what we had endured.
So the words I’d written became the heart of a Just Giving page and I set about raising the proverbial “few bob” for Breast Cancer Care, the charity that does so much for cancer sufferers and their families and friends.

The words clearly struck a chord. 

Within hours of the page being put up, donations from friends and work colleagues started to come in. We all raised over £1,600 in the end – a staggering amount given it was just a debut 5K and I was overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity.
I was told people were inspired by my words. Much the same way that Diane inspired me to write them. And so, in the hope that my story can inspire others, I decided to launch the Running With Diane campaign in aid of Breast Cancer Care.
Keep that in your mind at all time. For those of you who have lost loved ones like I lost Diane, this is something we will do WITH those loved ones.
You and I together will get through our pain by running, jogging, walking, hobbling or shuffling along and raising awareness of the fantastic work Breast Cancer Care does.

Oh, and for the record, since January this year as a result of all this, I have so far lost five and a half stones in weight (at least three more to go), lost six inches off my waist and dropped five shirt sizes. My diabetes is now undetectable and I've got two 10Ks under my belt with more to run in the coming weeks.

All through one day deciding to start Running With Diane.

Now it's getting
serious, Diane...

Diane spent her childhood in Rotterdam. She grew up there and loved the city. It always had a special place in her heart and we promised each other that one day we would visit it together and she would show me where she laughed, played, cried and learned to be the wonderful person she became.
But we kept putting it off and when she was diagnosed, it was shelved altogether. It was one of those things we were planning to do again when she got better. Sadly, that wasn’t to be.
And so to celebrate her childhood years in Rotterdam, I have decided to run the city’s marathon on April 13, 2014, through the streets where she grew up.

And I’ll be doing it with her. Running with Diane.

You can join in the adventure by signing up to this blog via your email, following my journey and being a part of it yourself. Over the coming months leading up to the marathon, I’ll be updating my training progress, talking more about Diane and trying to express how I feel about losing her.
All I want is not to let Diane down and do everything I can on her behalf to help others in our position. I’m hoping people will take some inspiration from my and Diane’s story.
Diane and I hope you can join us...