As you know, yesterday I completed my first triathlon raising money for From Me to You. To mark the event I thought a thank you letter was in order, as I have had such phenomenal support from so many people.
When I was diagnosed with bowel cancer eight years ago all I cared about was getting well but the chances of that happening were very slim. Back then I'd have happily traded in all exercise for the rest of my life just for the chance to live a few more years.
In my diary at the time I wrote:
12th September 2010 - Chippenham
Neil ran the Chippenham Half Marathon today. This time last year, I was running in the Windsor one. This year I am the bag carrier. While he was running I needed the loo. After radiotherapy when I NEED to go, I NEED to go. I darted into Starbucks. There was a mother and child ahead of me. I waited. Waited. Waited. I clutched my buttocks. I sang a song in my head. I whistled. When the door opened I almost knocked them over to get in. The relief of making it to the loo was immense. I cried.
It is down to a wonderful NHS medical team, incredibly supportive friends and the love of family that I'm here today.
And so it seemed fitting that this triathlon challenge, the first since my hospital discharge earlier this year, should find me back in Windsor, the location of the last challenge I did before I was diagnosed. (I had actually thought I was signing up for the flat triathlon course of Eton Dorney with it's beautiful lake swim but a click of the wrong button found me at Windsor with a swim in the Thames!).
I have been overwhelmed by the many many donations to the charity and messages of good luck over the last couple of months. I have been grateful to Samuel Barber who dared the river and accompanied me on all my training swims. A big thank you to the inspiring BBC Tripod podcast for encouraging me, and to BBC Radio Berkshire and many local press for sharing my exploits. But most of all, I say thank you to everyone who has lived a life with cancer. Each and every one of you will have inspired someone like me dare to do something they never imagined they could.
Best wishes and thank you again