‘I am trying to prove that you can do amazing things. You might get setbacks but I want to inspire others to think, actually, this might be difficult now but in the future I can do something like that. It doesn’t have to be a marathon, it could be a big walk, it could be anything. You don’t have to stop because something bad has happened, there is always something to look forward to.’
Bex Harris is one of the many taking on The Jersey Marathon on Sunday. It is her very first marathon! What makes Bex’s story even more inspiring is the fact Bex was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2019, and had brain surgery. Here is her story, in her own words:
Have you always been sporty?
Absolutely not! Friends from back at school always say that they can’t believe that I run now! We were always the kids who would always try to avoid PE, and doing any form of exercise. It is only ever since I moved to Jersey really. My now husband said to me one day ‘do you fancy going for a run together, outside?’ In my head I was thinking that I only run on treadmills, but we went outside and I really enjoyed it, and got hooked to it!
Where is the favourite place you have ran in Jersey?
My favourite event is the El Clasico Half Marathon. It is at the end of August, and it takes you around Portelet, St Brelade way. It is so beautiful on the trails, on the beach. I love it out there.
When were you first diagnosed with the brain tumour?
In 2019, just after we got married, we did our first half marathon but I was complaining about astigmatism in my eyes, and I was really tired which was so unlike me. I started to do really weird things, I would forget everything. I got lost on the way home from a night out, and I live in town. Work came to me and said that they had booked a doctors appointment and that my husband was outside waiting. From the doctors, they sent me straight to the hospital for a scan and airlifted me to Southampton. It was all very quick.
How much did it take you and your family by surprise?
The whole thing was such a blur for me. I called my mum to tell her what was happening, but I was in no way to know what was happening myself. For everyone else around me, it would have been horrible. I can’t imagine watching someone else go through that.
How was the process of the brain surgery?
Leading up to it, I signed something, but did I know what I was signing, not at all. I had no idea because it happened so quick. Afterwards I wasn’t allowed to do anything. I had something attached to the back of my head, and couldn’t leave the bed. You were only allowed visitors for a certain amount of the day. It was very tough. Laying there for such a long period of time, with nothing to do apart from crosswords. I was in the hospital for two or three weeks.
How hard was it to go from an active lifestyle, to next to no exercise?
It was really hard. A long walk would leave me extremely tired. There was a point where I was thinking I couldn’t do anymore, even if I wanted to. Saying that, if I didn’t do a walk, I would be a nightmare. I am one of those people who needs to be doing things.
How good was it to get back running, and how long did that take?
I was allowed to run a month after. I tried to go for my first run and it was horrible. I felt like I had lost so much fitness and it was really hard. I only managed around 4km. I had to leave long periods of time before trying again. I started questioning whether I wanted to comeback, it was that difficult. I kept going because I wanted that normal life back. I wanted to go back to work, I wanted routine again. Mentally each time I ran that bit further, it was so motivating.
Royal Parks Half Marathon – how good was it to complete that?
Originally it went virtual so I did it in April virtually around Jersey, on my own! I had family and friends at halfway to give me some more water and then they were at the end. When I finished I was like ‘oh my god I just ran a half marathon, on my own!’ There was a good app to tell you what landmarks you were supposedly passing which was great. I then got to do it for real, in London, and it was the most amazing atmosphere.
Jersey Marathon on Sunday – how are you feeling ahead of it?
Training has gone really well. Having a training plan has meant that I have not overdone it and haven’t got injured for that reason. In terms of the marathon, I think about it as four 10kms. It makes it sound a bit nicer! Just need to get Waterworks Valley out of the way! I know that in Jersey there are so many supportive people who come out of their houses to cheer us runners on, and feed us sweets. I love running here. So many of my friends are asking if they can track me or watch me, so I know that I, and all the runners will have so much support on the day! I am really happy that Jersey is going to be my first marathon. I am hoping for four hours, so fingers crossed!
You are raising money for Jersey Brain Tumour Charity
This charity has been amazing for me and my family. As soon as I got back to the island they got in contact with me. They gave me and my husband emotional support, because it is very difficult to come to terms with having a brain tumour. They gave me a bus pass so I could still be independent and get around without needing to ask others. They also helped with travel costs so that my husband could come with me to appointments in the UK. They have been absolutely brilliant from the start.
A huge good luck to Bex! We hope that she smashes it and meets her four hour target! What an inspiration. You can sponsor Bex via the link below!