The sound of my phone buzzing next to my hospital bed roused me from sleep. It was the early hours of the morning in August 2015. ‘Dad has stage 4 cancer,’ my sister Monya, then 48, told me tearfully. I was pregnant with twin girls and had been in Bath Royal United Hospital for a month with pre-eclampsia. I was in such shock, almost immediately my blood pressure rocketed, and the twins were delivered nine weeks early by cesarean section the following day.
My dad Abdellah, 79, had been having health issues since 2013. It began with problems with his bladder and difficulty passing urine. He was in constant pain.
Dad had always been such a proud man. Growing up, he’d worked day and night as a taxi driver, supporting my mum Kheira plus me and my five siblings. I’d always looked up to him as a hero, and now, after being told he had prostate cancer that had spread to his lymph nodes and was inoperable, I was distraught.
As I cradled my newborns Alayna and Maysa, the moment just felt bittersweet.
‘Will Dad be here to see their first steps or hear their first words?’ I cried to my husband Alex, then 44.
Over the following months, Dad had treatment, but it didn’t help and he passed away peacefully in September 2016. We were all inconsolable, but having the twins, then aged one, to look after kept me busy, and somehow I found a way to carry on. Then, in July 2019, when the girls were nearly four, Alex and I decided that we’d take them on a family holiday to Majorca.
We stayed in a beach-front apartment, overlooking a beautiful long stretch of promenade. Every morning, I’d stand with a cup of tea, watching people running by, and they all seemed so relaxed, completely lost in their own thoughts.
A WAY TO GRIEVE
‘Maybe I’ll give running a try,’ I thought to myself. I still carried a lot of grief with me and I wondered if perhaps running might help me.
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