Every year an extraordinary group of people raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care by running in the Virgin Money London Marathon. 2016 is no exception and in amongst the many thousands of runners, will be 15 people wearing our shirts with pride. They include Michelle Bray from Falmouth who, along with Natalie George and Jenna Stivey, will be taking part in memory of her daughter Sasha, who was cared for at St Julia’s Hospice a year ago. This is their story in their words:

Sasha had a rare form of cancer that she fought for two years. She spent her last eight days in the hospice. She was just 19. It’s because of this that we want to take on the marathon and raise money for Cornwall Hospice Care.

Sasha was fun with a dry sense of humour, she was also stubborn and she was definitely unique. She had her own sense of style, colouring her hair and sporting piercings and tattoos! But she was also a very deep person and it didn’t matter what she was going through, she was still thinking about everybody around her, especially her sisters.

Sasha was just cool. She didn’t follow trends, she did what she wanted to. She was in to clothes, the ‘Ska’ style and the music, and she enjoyed horse riding. She also had a quiet determination. When she was first diagnosed it was like we had all been pushed in to a bottomless hole, but she was the one who came out fighting and it put the rest of us to shame really. She got on with life, even passing her driving test. She loved driving and she was very proud of Dory, her little blue car.

If someone had mentioned hospices before all this we would have thought of them as frightening places, but in actual fact it was the best thing to happen to us and made a massive difference to us all. Sasha’s specialist nurse had taken us down to St Julia’s while she was still at Treliske, to have a look around.

The moment we walked in the door there was a sense of peace and quiet after being in such a busy hospital. We were welcomed by everybody, they all had time to talk or to have a cup of tea and little things like that made a difference. It was the next best place from home.

The hospice allowed us to make memories together right up until the last moment. Sasha had the pain relief she needed and the peace that she deserved, and we had the time and space to be together. We literally moved in to Sasha’s room and they looked after us all.

In fact the staff and volunteers cared for Sasha as if she was one of their own and that was amazing. We were with her day and night, which we might not have been able to do anywhere else.

One night some of her friends turned up quite late, around 10 o’clock, with balloons and cards. They were just going to drop them off at reception but the nursing staff said they could visit Sasha and it was lovely. They all laughed together and there was a lot of hugging and it meant so much to everyone.

When you lose somebody you kind of lose a sense of everything, any purpose, so
having discovered that the hospices are run by a charity and not by the NHS, we felt we could give something back by fundraising.

We’re a bit behind with the training so we’re going to pull our fingers out and get on. We’ve got a little running group going on a Wednesday and we train on the treadmill at home. We need to do a long run so that’s next on our schedule.

Two of us have run in the London Marathon before and if Sasha knew that we were doing it again she would say we were off our trolleys, but then again she would also appreciate the reasons why we want to help raise funds for Cornwall Hospice Care.

When Sasha’s Mum, Michelle Bray did the marathon in 2013 it was in a time of 4 hours 54 minutes. She was joined, as she will be this year, by Natalie George who clocked up exactly the same time. Jenna Stivey (20) is currently at Exeter University and has never run a marathon before.

To sponsor Michelle, Natalie or Jenna visit their Just Giving pages at…