Guest Blog: What is strength?

Last year my lovely friend Emily wrote a Guest Blog. Today she sent me an email with what you’re about to read, and asked if I wanted to share it.  I couldn’t be more proud to share it with you all, and honoured that Em asked me to post it.

Lots of love to Emily – and Finlay. xx

What is strength?

An odd subject for a blog I grant you, but an issue that has been buzzing around my head just lately – begging to be addressed.  So here we go…

I like to think I am a fairly strong person.  Before children, when I was young, carefree and drinking wine with my work colleagues in various London bars, I used to think of strength as just physical.  Can I lift that heavy box?  Of course.  Can I re-arrange a conference room, moving various chairs and tables? Hell yes!  Can I renovate a dilapidated house, stripping wallpaper and knocking down walls?  No problemo!

Strength was measured by exertion.  My working hours were long, my social life packed.  I thought I was busy.  And then I had kids…

A 28 hour labour will make you reassess strength.  Now I discovered that any physical tiredness I once felt before kids was nothing compared to the intense toil of motherhood.  Sleepless nights, sore leaky boobs, the drain of the emotion that comes with being a mum. And the worry!  How many situations of impending doom can one person imagine?  What if he falls out of the open car window as we are driving along.  Hang on, have I even put him in the car?  What if a dog attacks him when we are at the local park?  And on, and on.  Endlessly.  Now strength was measured mentally.  Emotionally.  Could I get through another day without sobbing at a really intense episode of Bob the Builder?  Unlikely.  Sometimes Bob’s deadlines are really cutting it fine!

Life with children is fun, full and hectic!  Soft-play centres are my new drinking establishments of choice (often tea and a biscuit).  Football on a Sunday my new overtime.  My strength comes from my children, shuttling them to various activities, seeing them have a good time.  Life is pretty great.

But this last year has tested my strength even more.  Just twelve short months ago, a very close friend was dealt the most devastating of news.  Her gorgeous little boy, Finlay was diagnosed with a Grade 4 Glioblastoma Brain Tumour.  Fin has gone through brain surgery twice, has endured chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a clinical trial.  He is about to embark on a second round of gruelling radiotherapy and he is, quite simply, my new hero.  My new definition of strength.

Because throughout this horrible journey, Fin has been truly amazing.  He is brave – overcoming his fear of cannulas; funny –  ‘Why can’t I eat white bread!?’;  and truly inspirational – he has raised over £35K including gift aid for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and Brain Tumour Research and also broken a Guinness World Record!  And still he goes to school, trains for his black belt in karate and continues to be a kind and caring little boy. Oh, and did I mention the Pride of Britain nomination?  Put simply – He rocks!

Of course, there have been dark moments.  This is hell on earth and any parent’s worst nightmare, but during this most horrific of times there have also been moments of sheer beauty – ones that will be treasured forever.  Acts of kindness, generosity and friendship that have gone above and beyond.  People are good, and I have seen that goodness in abundance.

Just recently I asked my lovely Facebook friends to donate just £1 each to try and boost Fin’s fundraising to over the £30k mark.  And I was staggered at the response.  Friends I hadn’t spoken to in years donated.  Colleagues who don’t know Fin, but who know me, digging deep, helping him to smash his target! Thank you my lovely ones – your kindness is appreciated more than you know.  And this got me thinking again about strength and what it really means.

Because ultimately, more and more, I realise that strength comes from love.  I worked hard at my career, because I loved my job.  I got through a gruelling birth and the pitfalls of parenting because I love my children.  And our love for Finlay makes him strong.  And he is loved more than he will ever know.

There is still a long way to go for Fin on his journey.  Every day brings extreme highs and lows – like the worst rollercoaster in the entire world.  Ever.  But his amazing family will continue to fight for him, because they love him.  As friends, we will continue to support them, because we love them.  And if you are reading this, you can help too.  You can #fundthefight to help find a cure for horrible brain cancer, and make sure that no other family, no other lovely children like Fin, have to prove how amazingly strong they are.

You can donate any amount to Fin’s fund here and you can follow his journey on his Facebook page.

Thank you xxx

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