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Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Olympic pride

I was looking at the coverage of the Olympic torch procession from yesterday.  Many people will carry it, and it will mean something special to each one of them, but maybe it will have meant the most to one of those who carried it yesterday.

Ben Parkinson is a British soldier who had both legs blown off, a broken back and brain injuries in Afghanistan in 2006.  Yesterday comrades from his regiment and many others gathered to cheer every step he took.  It is something that makes you just want to burst with pride, humility and admiration.  It may only have been 300m, but it is a mountain that he has climbed to do this.  Look at his eyes, the determination, concentration and sheer joy of being able to achieve this is shining through.  The look of 'you told me I couldn't do this, but I have proved you wrong' is there in every second of those 300m.

In a tiny way I understand that feeling, and the determination to prove them wrong.  When I was first told my cancer had spread and was considered I was left with the impression that I should just curl up in a corner and die.  The emotional journey of being able to come to terms the diagnosis; the acceptance of the fact that this disease will almost inevitably kill me; and the decision that I was going to move on from this has not been an easy one for me, or those who have sometimes found themselves in the firing line during the bad times.

The determination, of course, is not always there.  I am a human being after all, not a robot.  There are times when I just want to be dead as soon as possible because I feel as though I am a burden to those around me, that I am too nasty and that they won't understand.  I think Ben would understand, though his challenge has been so much greater than mine.  There is something that binds those of us who have experienced the reality that we truly are not immortal, and I am grateful that there are so many people who don't understand this feeling and , God knows, I wish that they never would understand it.  The determination stays there in the back of your mind and keeps you going.  It really is only one step at a time that gets you there and that is what I continue to do.  I may not be too steady on my feet, and the legs may give way occasionally, but I know and understand that look in Ben's eyes.

Maybe he should light the Olympic flame at the opening ceremony with Steve Redgrave.  Both have succeeded and know how to win.  Steve may have 5 Olympic Gold Medals, but I bet you that Ben's Olympics has been 'won' with far greater grit and courage than any medal ever could.

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