Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 25 December 2014

Katie Scarbrough's tragedy should make us treasure life

One of the reasons Belfast ice skater Katie Scarbrough gave for deciding to write her blog was to keep family and friends "in the know" as she battled what tragically turned out to be terminal cancer.

She certainly did that – and so much more.

I first started reading her online account of her illness late one night after a story about Katie appeared in this newspaper. I read her latest post, then went back to the very first one, which she had typed last July – she was writing about life, death and whether Andy Murray would win Wimbledon. It was – yes – gripping, and I didn't stop until I had finished the entire blog thus far in the wee small hours of the morning.

Katie was a naturally gifted writer – colourful, unflinching, defiantly humorous – but of course the story was also laced with heartbreaking emotion, hope against hope, and a slow, unfolding horror that seemed to spread like a stain across her life and the lives of those she loved.

Courage can take many forms – going public with your darkest fears, travelling in heavy snow from your home in Staffordshire to your native city Belfast for a charity ice skating gala when you are perilously ill...and smiling broadly for the cameras when you get there. But sometimes the greatest courage of all is just about summoning the resources needed to get through another day.

Katie did that, again and again. And she could never get enough of those tough days, if that meant more precious minutes with her children, Sam and Sophie, husband Stuart and family circle.

Katie died last Thursday but her blog is a lasting legacy of that bravery and resolve, and when her children are old enough to read it, they will read for themselves the depth of her love for them and how she wanted to stay with them more than anything else.

For the rest of us, her words are a haunting reminder to be grateful that, whatever crosses we may carry, right now we are not 32 years old and saying a final goodbye to the world and those in it we love.

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