As I prepare to run the Women’s 10k race in Glasgow in June, it takes me back to when I was getting ready for the same race last year.
Only days before the race, I was told I had cancer, but the grade and stage was not yet established.
It was a really difficult and emotional time – probably the hardest of my whole cancer journey. A few days after the race it was established I had grade 4 breast cancer and I had to start chemotherapy soon after.
I had sadly lost my sister to colon cancer years ago and had always worried about it. I had had lots of help from the genetics clinic in Edinburgh, regarding research into the genetics.
During my early days of breast cancer, I made good use of all the information booklets written by Macmillan Cancer Support. I also phoned the helpline a few times and found the staff to be very kind, helpful and matter-of-fact.
There is so much information available online, but a lot of it is dated. It was already hard to be faced with this diagnosis, so for me it was really important to seek up-to-date, objective, factual information. Macmillan delivered.
I have always been really active. As a kid and teenager, I played lots of football, went horse riding, and did gymnastics, dance, swimming, cycling, handball – any sport I wanted to try.
But as an adult, running my own business and working all hours, I have found running to be the best sport. I can do it anytime, anywhere, it’s time efficient and you get a quick intensive workout. And through running I have met some truly inspirational and kind people I am sure I would not otherwise have “run into”.
I have run the Women’s 10k in Glasgow nearly every year since 2001. I absolutely love the atmosphere and I love seeing all these women being active.
I am running again this year with my friends. We always bring a picnic to enjoy after the race as it’s nearly always a sunny day – one of the best of the year.
However, first I need to get into my fitness preparation. The unbelievable fatigue from the cancer treatment has made it really hard to get out and train, but made it so worth it.
My tip to anyone starting running or getting fit in general, is to just get started, take it in small chunks and build it up.
Before I got cancer, I would run about 10 miles on Sundays, and about six miles twice week. During chemo, I had to cut down to about half of that and I got slower too. After surgery and additional chemo, I then had to cut my training to half of that again, but it still meant I ran about six miles per week.
I have no doubt my activity made me tolerate the treatment better. When it came to having radiotherapy, I decided to run to and from every treatment at the hospital. I was knackered by the end, but felt a sense of achievement and completion.
My goal was always to get back to the Women’s 10k in Glasgow. I had experienced being on the start line next to a bunch of women running for a cancer charity. When I turned to them and said “I have cancer and I will be here next year” they all gave me a group hug and said “Of course you will, hen.” Then the gun went off and we all started running.
It was so emotional and I will hold that in my heart forever. I kept it in my head throughout my treatment. I wanted to be back on that start line in the sunshine, with other women raising money for charity around me – amazing.