"There is a lot of talk about ‘significant dates’ in the first year of losing your partner. For me, there was a certain pathos to the evening of Wednesday 17 September 2014 – it marked the anniversary of my last day at work for 5 months as Anna and I engaged in a short, vicious, futile fight against the Triple Negative beast. I recall the conversation as I left a conference in Oxford the year before – Anna had found a lump, but doubted it could be anything to worry about, as she had only been in ‘remission’ for 4 months. With acid clarity, I picture the medical professional we saw that evening taking one look at Anna and then looking across at me, ashen, shaking his head and, in the following days, a kaleidoscope of horror as test after test confirmed a bad diagnosis which ultimately became a final diagnosis.
Such trains of thought often lead to further conjecture regarding the futility of the treatment which Anna had already undergone with such dignity over the previous year. A mastectomy. A vicious chemotherapy cycle. All while dandling a 6 month old baby boy with love and affection and soothing a 3 year old’s fears.
Just as my thought pattern becomes ever more destructive, I think forward to the next significant date. 28 September 2014. The anniversary of the day when Epworth showed Anna that it loved her. The day that 300 or so people took to the High Street in an act of solidarity, willing her around and joining her in traversing the special course which Metres to Miles had arranged for her, after her hopes of completing the half marathon were dashed so cruelly. The date that all of the cafés open in Epworth donated their takings to Anna’s cause. The sea of pink. The tears. The laughter. Hope. The date that Team Verrico was first born.
Anyone reading this article who came out last year has my eternal thanks. As a family, we drew enormous strength from the outpouring of affection felt on that day. Anna was talking about the event even on the day she died. Lucia still smiles about the day she ‘helped mummy cross the finish line’. Sometimes, you don’t have to do anything enormous to help someone. Often it is enough simply to show that you care. Last year, Epworth did just that.
Can we do it again? This year, when you read the details of the Anna Verrico Half Marathon which is advertised elsewhere on this website and when you wonder if you should turn out for the Fun Run at least, just please think about the event. Remember why it carries Anna’s name. All of us are, at some point, touched by cancer. Sometimes, we don’t survive that interaction. But, together, we never give up. Never EVER. The charity, Team Verrico, which is Anna’s legacy will have a number of runners in the half marathon, with their names on their backs. Lucia is going to attempt the course, being pushed around by a team which I am honoured to lead. Give the runners an encouraging shout. Enjoy the short Fun Run with your kids. Wear pink. Embrace the moment. Teach little ones the meaning of charity and fighting spirit. Remind the world that here, in the Isle of Axholme, we have a community which comes together in times of need and sorrow.
See you there