I got some news last week I’ve been dreading for the last 2½ years. A wonderful woman I’ve faced on the squash court for many years finally succumbed to the myriad cancers that riddled her body.

Tarns was an incredible battler! When she was diagnosed with an extremely rare cancer, it seemed she might have just a few months. Somehow, she beat the odds and, despite the numerous tumours throughout her body, she fought and fought to keep them at bay, enduring all manner of treatments that ravaged her physical being.

But here’s the thing.  She didn’t just endure – despite all the pain, all the physical limitations the abominable disease caused, she somehow was able to wring every possible bit of joy from her life. The end result was inevitable, but she refused to wither up and allow it to consume her – she and her amazing family took every opportunity to ‘suck the marrow out of life’, to maximise whatever time they had to live, love and experience the best of life.

I’ve taken so much inspiration from Tarns’ incredible will and determination. One of the many lessons her amazing journey reiterated for me was that we must focus on quality over quantity. None of us know what tomorrow might bring, so we must treasure the moments and the people that enrich our lives. Whilst time is such a precious commodity, it has to be about how we spend that time – whether we have 2 months or 20 years, a few weeks of sharing amazing experiences with our loved ones might be better than enduring years of drudgery and mediocrity.

It’s the same with work. Whenever I meet new people socially, I always ask what they do, how long they’ve been doing it and – the ultimate question – how they like it. Probably around ¾ respond with something like “I do blah, it’s OK / it’s a job / pays the bills”, etc, etc. Maybe there’s about 5% of wierdos like me, who “love it, absolutely love it!” That leaves about 20% who “hate it with a passion!” “How long have you been doing it?” “20 years!”

I am always incredibly saddened when I hear that sort of thing. Apparently, most of us spend more waking hours working than we spend with our loved ones! If that’s even close to true, surely we’d want to be doing something we quite enjoy, with people we quite like! Is that too much to expect or hope for?

I’m a huge fan of quotes and many years ago, I coined one of my own – ‘Life is to be enjoyed – not endured.’ Despite all she endured over her last 2½ years, nobody I know epitomised that philosophy more than Tarns.

Go well, amazing lady – your legacy will live on forever!