Crying Is Not Weak

On Sunday, I ran the Race for Life with a few friends. It was great, the atmosphere was fantastic, we raised a good amount of money, and Mum was there to watch us go (something we could never have imagined a few months ago).

Sunday evening came along and I began to struggle with the reality of Mum’s condition again. While I’m at uni, I’m in a bit of a bubble. Yes, I know Mum’s ill, and that never goes away. I’m always waiting for the phone to ring and not a day goes by when I don’t think about it; but I’m shielded from many of the day-to-day impacts that cancer has on Mum and home and family life. Being at home is different – I have no choice but to confront it; she has limited mobility, she is more tired, and she is visibly unwell.


When I got back to uni this Sunday, the pictures of the race began to appear on Facebook. There are some absolutely lovely photographs, capturing lots of really special memories. However, when I loaded them in my photo editor, they came up alongside one from last year’s race. Mum looked like any other 50-something year old woman. She’s standing next to me, taller than me, and we’re both smiling and laughing at the camera. This year we’re still smiling and laughing, but Mum’s in her wheelchair, has lost weight and is rocking the post-chemo hair (it will be the next in thing in Vogue, just you watch…). It’s horrible to see someone you love deteriorate so starkly before your eyes like that, and understandably, I’ve been feeling slightly more fragile than usual for the past few days as a result.


I’m trying to accept that it’s okay to be upset, that it’s okay to cry. To most it would seem a fairly natural reaction to cry when someone you love is dying. I remember the Monday after I found out Mum’s diagnosis, I saw someone from the uni welfare team and they asked me why I wasn’t crying (I shrugged whilst mentally responding that I was on a new record of 4 hours no crying since finding out Mum’s diagnosis and would happily cry again if that would please him). Logically, I know that crying is okay and that it is a normal reaction to death, illness, and anything else difficult in life, but sometimes I find it difficult to do.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think many of us struggle to cry or to show we’re upset. We feel like other will see it as a sign of weakness. I think we often judge ourselves if we cry and view ourselves as weak – I know I do. But I’m slowly learning that crying, or being upset, is not a sign of weakness – they are simply emotions like any other. They are natural human reactions to difficult situations. Everyone has times when they are upset, when they cry, when they completely break down and sob into their pillow. Every single human on this planet has cried at some point in their lives. Not only is that normal, but it’s completely okay. These difficult emotions deserve to be felt, and hard as it is to sit with them and experience them, it is important and healthy to do so.

I don’t think we should be ashamed of being sad or upset. I’m not saying we should cry all the time (that would be highly unproductive and a bit weird), but when we need to, and when the time is right, I don’t think we should be afraid to just let it out – whether it’s with a friend, with a teddy, on your own, or watching the final episode of Gilmore Girls one more time because it’s just too perfect. Crying is not weak; it’s simply a release of the built-up, difficult emotions that you’ve been holding onto for too long.



Race for Life 2015

On Sunday, I’m taking part in the Harrogate 5k Race for Life with four of my friends as ‘Team Fiona’, named after my Mum. These lovely people have stuck by me since Mum’s diagnosis providing listening ears, a comfy sofa and unlimited hugs. Each of us has our own reasons for taking part so here’s a quick post to share with you all why this race is important to us.

RFLBBeth: I’m taking part in the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK to raise as much as possible for this amazing charity. In the UK, one in two people born after 1960 will get cancer during their lifetime. I’m not great at maths, but that’s half of us. In the 1970s, only a quarter of people survived cancer. Today, more than half will survive for at least ten years all due to excellent research funded by charities like Cancer Research UK. Let’s make sure this progress continues!!

RFLGGrace: I’m taking part in the race for life for two very special people I know who are currently battling cancer, Fiona and Graham. Such events raise awareness and much needed funds, uniting the nation in the battle against cancer. I will feel proud to run the race for these two incredible people and hope that our efforts will one day help to eliminate this devastating disease.

RFLHHarri: I’ve known the Barrow family all of my life. Naomi and I have been friends since we were weeks old, so I can’t remember a time without her, and Fiona, in my life. It’s very important to me to run this race to prove to Fiona that I can do it. I also want to raise money so that Cancer Research can keep researching treatments and less people die from cancer in future.

RFLNNaomi: I ran the race for life with Grace last year and it was awesome. I wasn’t sure that Mum would still be with us for the race this year, but she is and that’s even better! Whilst running this race is not going to ‘cure’ Mum, it makes me feel like I’m doing something in what can often seem like a hopeless situation. I hope that raising money for Cancer Research, will enable them to continue their work, so less people receive the devastating news that someone they love is going to die from cancer.
Sarah: The reason I’m running is because there’s no reason not to. It’s such an amazing experience to know that the money you raise WILL help people. I’ve never been involved in a charitable cause where the support for it is so unified before. Everyone is affected by cancer; directly or indirectly. So there’s no reason not to support the cause. But I want to live in a world where cancer is rare, not expected and not just accepted as what happens.

Now that you know why we’re doing this, please consider sponsoring one (or all!) of us for the race this Sunday. Any donation, big or small, helps Cancer Research to continue their incredible work. For our individual fundraising pages, please click our names. Our team page is here. You can also donate to my page by texting ‘RFLN94 £[amount]’ to 70070.