Ange Lovejoy recently completed her 100th parkrun and has volunteered 39 times, many as Run Director at Chermside parkrun in Australia. Currently, she is on sabbatical, while undergoing chemo and immunotherapy.
Ange explains how the sense of community at Chermside parkrun has been absolutely immeasurable, and the routine of being able to turn up weekly, no matter her health status, and walk or volunteer has been vitally important to her physical and mental wellbeing.
To rewind a little, and give a bit of a wrap up of the last 12 months: Shortly after the birth of our daughter Raven in February this year, I ended up in hospital from pneumonia. After suffering from hyperemesis for the full 38 weeks of my pregnancy and a weakened immune system, We didn’t know at the time this was actually the start of my cancer. A few months after having Raven, I had been working on building my running and fitness back up. I also returned to work, but around 3 weeks in, I started aching all over and had such shocking joint pain so horrific I could barely shuffle. Ended up in emergency and my legs started swelling, I was given fentanyl injections in my stomach and then sent home 2 days later and told to ‘follow up’ with my doctor as they thought I had an autoimmune disease. By this time I made it in agony to my GP, barely able to walk – she called an ambulance and I spent the next 5 weeks in hospital.
This was such a daunting experience when normally I was so active. I could not mobilise enough to even get out of bed by myself. After weeks and weeks of no treatment, just pain relief and 4 medical teams left scratching their heads I felt more and more frustrated stuck in hospital and not home with my family. When eventually after many biopsies and surgery to have lymph nodes out it was finally discovered I had a very rare cancer and secondary autoimmune condition.
My cancer isn’t ‘curable’ but we don’t know time frames at this stage and are enjoying every single day as a family, and continuing life as ‘normal’ as we can while we wait for the first 6 months of chemo to be over.
Through these last 6 months, our parkrun friends have been the core of our support network, we had donations of meals, cleaning, babysitting, visiting in hospital, driving me to hospital appointments.
Our Event Director and other Run Directors at Chermside took turns at picking me up and wheeling me entire parkruns in my wheelchair so I was still included and maintained the sense of belonging in the community and routine that I especially craved especially during the early few months of my diagnosis. Even being unwell, and unable to run, turning up every week to participate by wheeling, or walking or volunteering was so crucial in maintaining ‘normality’ through this time.
I have an ongoing chronic pain condition/nerve damage in my leg over the last 6 years but have been still able to maintain a very active lifestyle with some modifications to training. For now, I’m out of a wheelchair, and using crutches or leaning on Raven’s pram to mobilise. I’ve just joined the Run Down Under program to record my slow but steady recovery and help me with small goal setting along the way.
I feel its extremely hard to go ‘from everything to nothing’ when you are used to running long distances, but am learning that ‘something’ is definitely better than ‘nothing’ when it comes to exercise.
I’m so grateful for the support from our parkrun community, friends and family – but most of all my amazing partner Scotty caring for both myself and our daughter Raven tirelessly, without a single complaint and a heart full of love for us.
It might be hard some mornings to get up and get out to parkrun/walk on a Saturday morning, but I promise you won’t regret it! Walk with someone new, introduce yourself and you might be surprised at their story and what motivates them.
Every parkrun weekend is special, of course, but we especially love welcoming new events to the parkrun USA family. That’s just one of the stories in our highlights from this weekend across parkrun USA. There’s something magical about the moment that a parkrun stops being an idea and turns into a living, breathing community….
On pre-Valentine’s weekend, Pensacola, FL was clearly smitten with its new parkrun. The University of West Florida welcomed 226 finishers to the newly cleared trail through its Baars-Firestone Wildlife Sanctuary. This was the largest North American parkrun launch to date, by far. We checked in with the team at Rec Plex North parkrun to…