Monday 18 September 2023

One day one photo - 18: RIP Wonder Woman (aka Tabitha Rendall)

The lovely Tabitha Rendall

This photo of Tabitha Rendall symbolises what she represented - Wonder Woman - a woman who does loads of activities, is strong, empowered and a superhero to her three children.

I am so shocked and saddened to learn that Tabitha, who I raced with in previous years at local cyclocross races, died this morning. It was like a real hit to the solar plexus. She was a healthy woman who did lots of sport, and busied herself within the cycling community, notably in BMX where her she and her children had been heavily involved - and were doing well at the discipline. 

I first got to know Tabitha when she started doing cyclocross and we would sometimes end up in a mano a mano in the races - though in the end, she got faster as I got slower!

Tabitha also got into road racing and helped with administering the London Women's Cycle Racing League. 

I didn't see her so much in recent years as I raced less. Also, she took time out when she suffered a head injury following a crash in a BMX race. But we kept in touch on social media and she regularly updated us on the different activities and trips that she went on.

Then out of the blue, in May of this year Tabitha made the shock announcement that she had been diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was quite surprise as I had until then, been enjoying her posts about her travels in Nigeria and to Chile.

So I really didn't see this coming. Knowing how strong and organised Tabitha is, I wanted to believe she could combat this terrible affliction. 

But it wasn't to be. Unfortunately, a few complications including a pulmonary embolism, and a bout of coronavirus left her in a very weakened state, and the cancer spread throughout her body. It was in late August - just 2 months later - that she said she was being moved into end-of-life care.

I really had hoped there could be a miraculous change in events, but when I saw the various tribute messages on Facebook, I realised that Tabitha had passed away. That left me in shock, and I am still reeling from the news. I just keep asking why this had to happen.

Sure, folks say that death is part and parcel of the rigours of life. I had to deal with the loss of my mother in 2014, and another active cycle racer, Charlotte Easton in 2016. But there's something quite brutal about what happened with Tabitha.

A few high-profile people died of bowel cancer in recent times - Deborah James (aka Bowel Babe) succumbed to it after being diagnosed in 2016, and the BBC journalist George Alagiah also died a couple of months ago from the same disease after a nine-year battle. They both had a survival rate of a few years - the average five-year survival rate for bowel cancer is around 65%. That means that for every 100 people diagnosed with bowel cancer 65 of them will live for five years after the diagnosis.

Just five months ago Tabitha was getting on with her active life and enjoying her travels. When she suffered from stomach upset in April she just thought it was something dodgy she'd eaten. She couldn't have imagined that there was a metastasis going on in her caecum, and this would take her away from this earth just a few months later. Even in her last update to everyone on Facebook she admitted that she had thought that she would be reach this situation in two or three years' time. In her post she said she had so much more love and nourishing to give her children. She had so much of the world that she hadn't seen, and was looking forward to doing so. 

Tabitha was ready to fight this battle and her experience of endurance events - notably when she did the Three Peaks cyclocross, and her ride across Italy - had her set up for a long road. But that road just came to shockingly abrupt end - at the age of 52. That's what is heartbreaking and devastating.

I feel terrible for Tabby's family and friends, especially her children, who have not all reached adulthood yet. I like to think that she has left a strong legacy for her children, and she will always be Wonder Woman.

Ride high, Tabby. Xx  

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