I recently had the opportunity to work with Jill and Jessie in preparation for taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Pretty Muddy event last month.  Someone asked me last week how on earth I was lucky enough to be picked to get to take part in the campaign and meet Jessie.  How do I answer that one?  I work for ScottishPower who is the official energy sponsor for the event and who has raised £15m for Cancer Research UK.  Yes – but it was because only two years ago I was in the middle of treatment for breast cancer and had to pull out of the same event at the advice of my oncologist.  Lucky?  Two years ago, I couldn’t have seen much luck in my situation.  Now, I realise how fortunate I am.  Fortunate to be here, to be healthy and to be happy.   Not everyone is as lucky.  So yes, I laughed and conceded that maybe lucky wasn’t quite how I’d describe it but it certainly was a fantastic opportunity.

The Pavelka Way (eat, sweat, think and connect) was not something I was familiar with before meeting Jill and Jessie.

I’ve always loved keeping fit and I’d watched Jessie on TV so the chance to get to meet him in person and get training advice was brilliant.  For me the “sweat” part of the Pavelka Way is fun – it’s what I love, I feel good when I exercise.  I love a challenge and preparing for Cancer Research UK’s Pretty Muddy was fantastic – it was the push I needed to up my game in the gym again.  Cancer treatment is undoubtedly the hardest thing I have ever been through.  “Sweat” was near enough impossible two years ago but as soon as I felt well enough I went out walking and before long I was back in the gym which helped not only my physical but my mental recovery too.

“Eat” is a natural fit with “sweat” for me.  I knew I had to eat well and train hard to get back in shape and feel better about myself again.  Jessie was able to give me nutrition advice and recipes to help keep me on track and make sure that I had a healthy well-balanced diet.  I am a definite smoothie convert and even better my four-year-old son loves them too!!

That is probably where I would normally have stopped when thinking about a healthy lifestyle.  I keep fit and I eat a healthy diet.  “Think” and “connect” was a new way to look at a truly balanced and well-rounded approach to life for me.  “Connect” I quickly came to realise was my family and friends.  Even wider than them it was the support groups I joined and new friends I made who were in the same situation as my own.  Two years ago I had to go and wave my friends and colleagues off as they took part in Pretty Muddy without me.  It was the first time I had gone out in public wearing my wig or seen anyone from work since my diagnosis – it was a really tough day emotionally for me.  I am so very lucky that these same people were willing to do the event again this year to make sure that I got my chance to take part and complete that course.   Two years on – still lots of tears but this time for all the right reasons as I was back with my friends and this time I was taking part. This was my “connect”!

“Think”.  This is the element I still have a challenge with.  Jessie asked me what I did to focus on mindfulness.  Wow – not a lot!!!  I know for me personally, this is an area I need to work on but the Pavelka Way has let me recognise this and I know it is something I will definitely try and build and focus on over the coming months.

I’ve completed Pretty Muddy – the help and advice from Jessie paid off and I made it around the course, having the time of my life with my friends and family.  I’m confident I’ll continue with “eat”, “sweat” and “connect” and as someone who loves a challenge next on my hit list is “think”.

Meeting Jill and Jessie made me think differently about a healthy life and I will definitely be continuing to follow The Pavelka Way for the foreseeable future.  Thank you both so very much.