Reflecting on 2020…

Yesterday, I started to write my review of 2020… needless to say it made grim reading. Having slept on it, this morning I took a few moments to think about the positives that have come out of the last 12 months, so I thought I’d share just some of those:

January – Having had a bit of a psychological wobble at the start of the year, I had a very helpful talk with a trusty friend who helped me refocus. I totally overhauled my diet and nutrition. I soon lost 1 stone and experienced significantly less brain fog. I also started working with Jon Fearne of e3coach.com – read on for the results of that! I also started my second attempt at writing my book.

February – Got my backside out of the door in the most horrendous weather, day after day after day… I know if I can do this, I can do anything. Besides, I’ve overcome far worse than running through storms with horizontal rain, sleet and snow. I was also totally humbled to be invited to become an Ambassador for the British Acoustic Neuroma Association (BANA).

March – Birthday month! Another milestone, and a privilege denied to so many, so please don’t complain to me about grey hair or being another year older.

April – Lockdown. My focus became writing my book and training.

May – A week in the beautiful mountains of Scotland (that I’d planned to use as serious hill training) and my half marathon were cancelled – disheartening to say the least, and training with no goals and no end in sight was really challenging. Started making plan Bs and Cs for the rest of the year.

June – Ultra marathon cancelled. Devastated, I deferred my entry to 2021 then got back to the alternate plans. My mind was whirring…

I also became a grandma!! Not so little Rico was born on 18th June weighing in a 8lb 15oz.

July – With my summer holiday cancelled, I switched my thoughts to my Solo Sandstone Trail Ultra. My Plan B. I felt bad, as those who had sponsored me to run the ultra marathon that didn’t happen had helped me raise £2,000 for both the British Acoustic Neuroma Association and Brain Tumour Research charities, so I ran my own covid-free event. It was totally awesome. I got caught in a torrential downpour, even got lost and added on a couple more kilometres, but I loved every single minute, well almost! I even discovered just how far I could push my body with a very low carb/ketogenic diet, fuelling myself with water, one almond, coconut/oil and dark chocolate fat bomb that was smaller than an ice cube!

Our bodies are amazing. It frightens me to think some people will never push themselves to realise just what they are capable of.

You can watch my journey here:

August – With my ultra done, I had a bit of a wobble as again, I found myself with no goals. May’s half marathon entry had been deferred to September, and Chester Marathon entry was made for October. With everything crossed, I continued training. We had also planned to backpack around a mountainous area of Poland in September, so I wanted to maintain a level of fitness for that.

Sickbed To Summits was in the final editing and formatting stages and I used my available time to learn about independent publishing.

With some lockdown restrictions still in place, we found new ways to explore the area near our home. I hadn’t been kayaking since before surgery, but managed this with no issues!

September – Guess what? Half marathon was cancelled, along with full marathon and the Poland trip. More events rolled forward to 2021.

This month I also received my Roger Select mic through Access to Work, which has made a huge difference to my hearing loss.

OctoberSickbed to Summits was finally published. The day before, I felt physically sick with worrying what people would think about it. However, I soon began to receive messages from people around the world who were on a similar journey, thanking me for giving them a little hope. It made the tears worth it!

Having continued to train, and needing a goal, I made a relatively last minute half marathon race entry in November. Surely things wouldn’t change so much in a couple of weeks??

November – How wrong I was. With just 2 days to go, the half marathon was cancelled. I wasn’t upset, or frustrated. This time I was angry. I messaged my coach to try and work the problem and we decided I should race anyway. On my own. Again.

Stepping out of the front door and trying to treat it as a race event was tough. The weather wasn’t too great either, with rain clouds looming overhead. Still, fasted and fuelled with just water, I did it. 13.1 solo miles. I also bagged 5 new PRs in the process for 1km, 1 mile, 5k, 10k and a half marathon time of 2:18 – faster than the last race I ran before my diagnosis! My new normal is looking slightly more appealing than the old one!

It’s New Year’s Eve. We have just been placed in tier 4, so plans are having to be rearranged as I write this. Whilst it’s easy to look back at the negatives, there have been so many positives for me. 2020 has taught me so much about myself. Don’t get me wrong, there have been challenges… I see having survived a brain tumour as a bit of a superpower, but face masks are my kryptonite! Again, this highlights the problems individuals with hidden disabilities face and I hope 2020 has raised awareness of this to others.

Having the ability to socialise taken away from us is something that many people are forced to choose on a daily basis. Having the ability to do that which I enjoy taken away from me brought back some unpleasant memories of a time I’d rather forget. That was tough, but a reminder of what I have overcome, and going through this process a couple of years back has given me the resilience and strategies I needed to cope with the ever changing circumstances we have found ourselves in this year.

I have also come to know some amazing individuals doing incredible things in often difficult circumstances, and with the odds stacked against them. For this I am grateful.

I now have a laser-like focus on what I want to achieve in the future. I want to show others just what they can achieve. 2021 will see me pushing myself further than ever before, and I will be sharing my plans and many aspects of that journey very soon. I really hope you will join me.

During a time when I have had little control over what is happening around me, Having goals has been so important, and helped me through some very challenging times. My advice to you is to keep looking for the positives, the silver linings and find your focus. Set yourself goals, put a timescale on them if you can and do something each day to take you closer to fulfilling them. I will be posting more about this soon. Also, surround yourself with positive influences. I have stopped watching TV, choosing instead to watch things that inspire and motivate me.

Even in the darkest of times, 2020 has delivered good things, so never stop looking for the silver linings.

Wishing you all an incredible year.

Be safe,

Sara

I’m currently working on my next writing project, How We Rise, but I need your support. You can find out more here.

Published by Sara C

It's hugely important to raise more awareness of brain tumours and the implications they can have on patients' lives. I aim to help to create wider understanding of the effects brain surgery and a diagnosis can have on an individual and their families on a emotive level through my own experience.

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