A BRAVE Carlisle copper will be guest of honour at Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life event.
Debbie Hall, aged 47, will take to the stage at Bitts Park on Sunday July 10 to talk about her own experience of cancer before sounding the starter horn to set participants on their way. She will participate in the 5k event as part of the “Five Challenge Fundraiser” she has set herself for the next 12 months.
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Marathon events which raises millions of pounds every year to help fund life-saving research.
Debbie, who works as a PC, was aged 32 when she found a lump in one of her breasts while having a bath. She immediately felt concerned as her mum, Hilda Hall, had already been treated for breast cancer.
The mum-of-one saw her GP who referred her to Cumberland Infirmary for tests. She was hugely shocked and upset to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Debbie was even more devastated as just days later she was due to start her chosen career in the police force.
She had to put the start date with the police back while she underwent a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. It was an incredibly difficult time for Debbie as she had given up her previous job working with people with drug and alcohol problems and had to rely on her partner for financial help.
Debbie also had to explain to her son Martyn, who was only aged 11 at the time, what she was going to have to go through.
In 2007, Debbie’s mum died aged 58 having fought breast cancer several times. The cancer had spread into her brain and treatment was no longer an option.
Debbie was able to join the police force a few months after finishing her own cancer treatment.
She underwent genetic testing and was found to carry the faulty BRCA2 gene and was advised her mum had probably also been a carrier.
Debbie gradually started to suffer with back pain which she believed was due to a fall at work. She underwent two MRI scans which revealed a lesion on her lower spine. But it was believed to be benign.
By 2015, Debbie continued to suffer with discomfort in her back and suspected there was something seriously wrong as she was also suffering with exhaustion.
She was eventually sent for scans and was told the devastating news in September of last year that she had secondary cancer.
Debbie has undergone chemotherapy treatment at The Christie hospital in Manchester. She has lost her hair. But coped well with the treatment and is now on tablet form drugs.
During the chemotherapy treatment, she moved in with son Martyn, now aged 24, his partner Georgia and her grand-daughter Skyla Rose.
Debbie, who works in the control room at Penrith, said: “Each time I have been diagnosed with cancer, it has been completely shocking and very upsetting. But I have to remain strong and determined for myself and my family.
“ I am receiving excellent treatment in Manchester and will carry on fighting no matter what because I am only 47 and have my whole life ahead of me yet.
“My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. It’s thanks to research that I’m here today.”
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Cumbria, said: “Race for Life events are not competitive. They are not about being fit or fast. Taking part is about being part of a collective force of powerful women – of all ages – leading the charge against cancer.
“There are lots of different events to choose from – with 5k, 10k and Pretty Muddy events there’s something to suit everyone. We’re urging women to pick the event that puts fire in their bellies and sign up as soon as possible.”
Money raised through Race for Life allows Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research which is helping to save the lives of men, women and children across Cumbria.
Jane added: “One in two people like Debbie in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives. Thanks to advances in research more people are surviving than ever before, but there’s still more work to be done. The fight is on and we’re rallying women across Carlisle to join us at the starting line.
“We know that the ladies of Carlisle are ready to limber up, stride out and take on the challenge so we urge them to sign up now and help bring us one step closer to the day when all cancers are cured.”
Debbie’s “Five Challenge Fund Raiser” will support Cancer Research UK, Eden Valley Hospice and Jigsaw. To support her fundraising efforts visit:
Race for Life Pretty Muddy will be held at Bitts Park on Saturday July 9 followed by a 5k and 10k Race for Life the following day – Sunday July 10, at the same venue.
To enter Race for Life today visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.