In 2001, aged 36, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My son was just 4 months old and it was a scary time. I had a mastectomy a few weeks after diagnosis and that was followed by chemotherapy. A few years later I opted for reconstructive surgery. Due to a slight complication during the 17 hour long operation, the recovery from this took months. Five years later in 2006 with all that behind me I decided to take part in the local Race For Life 5K support Breast Cancer. Having been a good track athlete at school, I was appalled that 25 years on, I couldn’t run the whole way round a 3 mile race and had to stop and walk – a lot. I finished bright red in the face, exhausted. Having led a mainly sedentary adult life, with 2 young children, I decided to join Stowmarket Striders Running Club. I began to love running, having some “me time”, losing weight and seeing improvements in my run speed and distance. My husband bought me a Garmin running watch, which meant he was also giving me his blessing. The following two years I returned to the Race For Life 5K and came 4th both times. I haven’t looked back. I’m sure my family all thought it was a fad and I’d soon get over it.
I was diagnosed with a re-occurrence of Breast Cancer (in the same area despite the mastectomy & reconstruction) in 2011. A lumpectomy, more chemo (I used the cold cap this time so I didn’t lose so much hair, but meant each chemo session was about 3 hours long) and this time 6 weeks of radiotherapy. I was distraught that this episode was going to interfere with my passion for running. I had to stop running completely while things healed after the op, but managed to continue some form of running during all the subsequent treatment. I had been training for Amsterdam marathon at the time I was diagnosed but despite continuing to run as best I could, I didn’t feel strong enough to do a marathon. I still haven’t done that one.
Since 2006 I’ve gone on to take part in many races of various distances including marathons and a few ultra’s (nothing over 30 miles). In 2015 I took part in the Outlaw Holkham middle distance triathlon relay, doing the run leg for the team. That hooked me in and the following year I did the complete race as an individual. Even more hooked in 2017 I did the Outlaw Nottingham Half and then the full distance Outlaw Triathlon. This gave me a qualification for the ITI Long Course World Championship taking place in 2019. Also in 2016 my finish position in my age group gave me qualification to join the Masters Marathon England Team for England Athletics and I competed in the marathon Championship in Chester in 2018. This gave me qualification for the 2019 Championship, to be held at the York marathon.