A couple of weeks ago, I received a letter of thanks from local charity Neurocare for £57.50 that we raised over Christmas.
We had wanted to share this amazing news, but then didn’t. Why?
Fundraising for Neurocare started in 2013 when, as a family, we did our first 5k and 10k Head Start runs. That was six years ago. Since then we’ve asked for, and received so much generosity, that our gratitude can never be put into words. But as time passes, it also seems to be much harder to do.
I sometimes feel like I’m repeating myself and pressuring friends when asking for support yet again; using the same means, the same designs, the same ideas, all to raise money for the same charity.
Could it be time to stop? You see, we’re the “lucky ones”. We had a glimpse into hell, but unbelievably we’re all still here.
Our youngest brother Tom went through something that most of us will never comprehend. In 2012 he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and cyst that required intensive radiotherapy and seven brain surgeries, including the final one as an awake craniotomy. He was a hero and overcame so very much.
But that’s not all his story. He graduated from university and married. He’s an uncle, son, brother, grandson and homeowner. He has a successful job, a cat and a wonderful life. No doubt his biggest challenge was integral to who he is now, but it certainly doesn’t define him.
As Tom’s eldest sibling, it also was a huge part of my own story. It helped in making me the adult I am today, of my relationship with my partner and how I view myself, others and life. It was my family’s story. My mum and I saw the tough times together, side by side.
The terrifying ambulance rides, the agonising hospital waits, the not knowing why it was happening or when it would end. My stomach churns at some of these hidden memories…but, and more importantly; we laughed!
Like the hilarity and relief of my youngest brother, waking from his first brain surgery, still high on morphine and making me and Mum crack up by telling utterly rubbish jokes. Of knowing, so much has changed, but actually – he’s still the same. Of experiencing the worst, yet still appreciating how amazing life is, too.
We had the privilege of the Royal Hallamshire Hospital saving my brother’s life. We had the privilege of the NHS literally stepping in and saying; we’re here and we’re going to do everything we can, because we care. We also had the privilege of Neurocare being there so that each person, partner, friend and family member, could feel safe, secure and looked after at some of the worst possible moments you can imagine.
Moments that two of my beautiful friends are currently going through on their own horrendous journeys as they light their loved one’s darkest times.
Then I think this is why! This is why you should keep asking. Why you should keep making, doing, running and designing. To say, “Thank you” and to do something to help, no matter how small. There’s no expiration date on that because someone, somewhere is going through something similar. It doesn’t matter if it’s in the same city, let alone country. It’s happening everywhere.
Someone who knows how it feels to have the best news you could hope for, and the worst. The NHS is the best thing this country has but it still needs help from wonderful charities. It’s ok to not donate or buy another pack of cards for the third year in a row, but it’s still ok for us to ask, because one of the worst feelings is helplessness.
So I wanted to share this to say “thank you”. Thank you, to you those who have helped over the years. Thank you to my family for showing how a team works together. How we can love each other unconditionally whilst going eye to eye with adversity and most importantly, how to be strong. And thank you, to those who are doing it now; you’re not alone, but you are incredible.
In total the Stoker family has raised £5,500 for Neurocare. The family is now taking part the charity’s flagship event for the seventh year in a row to raise further funds.
Neurocare still has charity places for Head Start 5K & 10K 2019 – sponsored by Dutton Recruitment. The event will be held on Sunday 19 May at Rother Valley Country Park. For more information, or to sign up, visit www.neurocare.org.uk/event/head-start-5k-10k