In April 2018 my world changed dramatically when I found out I had breast cancer.
I had always been so fit and healthy. Life was good, my husband had just set up his own business and my two teenage children were sitting final school exams. So suddenly being diagnosed with cancer was a shock to the whole family.
I am an active member of a cycling club and had recently completed a cycling trip to the French Alps. I decided that whatever the treatment the hospital decided upon, I was going to keep as fit as possible throughout.
After my lumpectomy I was surprised how little pain I was in and I’m sure that’s down to my fitness. I started with short walks close to my house, with my drains hidden in my hand bag! The weather was beautiful, so each day I did a longer walk. I was back working just over a week later! I’m self employed so couldn’t have too much time off.
I was back cycling three weeks after my second operation and would cycle to every hospital and doctor’s appointment, come rain or shine.
My daily radiotherapy sessions began in November and lasted four weeks. I was determined to ride to each session and to my other medical appointments (over 50). I would leave the house at 7am, it was dark and often cold, but I always felt fantastic cycling to the hospital as I could weave in and out of the rush hour traffic!
The staff at Maidstone hospital were fantastic but I think they must have thought I was mad turning up in my lycra shorts and club jersey – I really didn’t feel like one of the patients. At the end of my final radiotherapy session I rang the bell loudly and the entire waiting room cheered and clapped.
I think the side-effects from Tamoxifen and Zoladex have been minimal because of my fitness. I still have bad days, I am a mobile dog groomer and my clients have been so kind and it really helps to talk, and they don’t seem to mind if I have a little sob while grooming their dogs.
I do lots of yoga which has helped the movement in my arm where lymph nodes were removed. The meditation at the end is so relaxing and helps with anxiety. I also swim throughout the year, the cold water has great health benefits.
My future is exciting and I’m enjoying cycling for longer and longer distances. I’ve recently completed a 200km Audax and I’ve signed up to do the 10km race for life and have plans to undertake a triathlon.
This is the story of how I am not letting cancer get in the way of my love of cycling. I feel passionately about exercise and I’m sure the side-effects of the drugs has been eased because of this.
All of this could not have been done without the love and support of my family and friends.
My advice to anyone who has just been diagnosed with an illness is exercise as much as you can, even if it’s just a walk to the park, it really does make a difference not only to your body but also to your mind.