[A] CARLISLE cancer survivor is calling on women to join the fight against the disease by entering Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life as the popular fundraiser turns 21 this year.
Mum-of-four Emma Dent, Aglionby Street, is encouraging women of all ages and abilities to unite to help beat the disease by entering Carlisle Race for Life 5k, 10K or Pretty Muddy obstacle course on Sunday 15 July at Bitts Country Park or signing up to the new Lowther Castle event in Penrith on 9 and 10 June.
It will be 21 years since the popular 5k fundraiser began in Carlisle this year. Over the years a 10k event has been added in 2015 followed by a Pretty Muddy 5k obstacle course which began in 2016.
Emma has taken part in Race for Life with her two daughters in the past and this year raised over £400 for Cancer Research UK by walking 10,000 steps every day in March. Her husband Stuart raised £1,000 by taking part in the charity’s Dryathlon challenge which see participants banish the booze for a month and get sponsored. Emma says it is thanks to cancer research – funded by events like Race for Life – that she is still here to see her young grandson Eli grow up.
The 45-year-old met Race for Life organisers and posed for a photo at Sheepmount Stadium to help launch the campaign to drive sign-ups for the event.
Staff and volunteers have been handing out flyers in Carlisle to promote the event.
Emma, a former yoga teacher who now works installing large-scale Christmas trees and lights across the UK, was diagnosed with bowel cancer four years ago in May 2014 after noticing changes to her toilet habits including needing to go more often.
She went to the GP who initially suspected she had irritable bowel syndrome and Emma was given tablets but things did not improve. After seven months Emma did a stool sample and was booked in for an endoscopy.
She was given a CT scan – which revealed a large tumour the size of a tangerine – and had her bowel operated on 10 days later at Cumberland Infirmary.
Her surgery was followed by 10 months of chemotherapy because the cancer had spread to her surrounding lymph nodes.
Emma said: “You do have to pester to get followed up. You alone know your body. I was a fit, yoga teacher at the time, not a smoker, not a drinker I didn’t tick any of the boxes – I was just unlucky I guess.
“However, thanks to cancer research and our amazing NHS I am still here after a bowel rearrangement followed by 10 months of chemotherapy every two weeks plus a couple of bouts of sepsis. So in your face cancer you can’t get rid of me that easily!
“I want to thank everyone who does Race for Life for your support. I’m one of the lucky ones. I get to be with my amazing crazy family and friends a while longer. I’d walk round the earth for you all to raise awareness now!”
Emma, who is mum to Bethan, 22, Lucy, 21, Patrick, 19, and Richard, 18, added: “My family were brilliant. The children were in the middle of A-levels, AS-levels and GCSEs so it was a really difficult time but they are wonderful.
“I found the important thing for me was to go with the flow. It put a lot of stress on the whole family even financially as there isn’t much help for those who are self-employed. I think cancer affects everyone else more than the actual patient because they can’t do anything. But they’ve all been brilliant. My husband Stuart was trying to hold the family together. He’d come to hospital everyday with me and bring me coffee as well as looking after everyone else and our two dogs.
“We used to call my tumour “Bob”. We didn’t like using the C word round the house it just sounds so depressing.
“I’m just so grateful to be here now. I see life very much as a glass half full. I want to share my story so people are aware that bowel cancer can happen to younger people too and like me – you don’t always lose your hair from chemotherapy so people didn’t always know I had cancer. I’d still be out walking the dogs.
“Surviving cancer has made me do a lot more. I decided to do something that scares me and I learnt to dive on a holiday to Egypt. We’d never been to Egypt before and I’d never even snorkelled before but we ended up doing a PADI diving courses and it was amazing – I’m so desperate to do it again.
“I feel like I’ve got a new lease of life. We found out Bethan, our eldest daughter, was pregnant just before my last dose of chemotherapy so then I had my grandson arriving to look forward too. He’s two and a half now and so lovely!
“I encourage men and women to go to the doctors if you think there is something wrong. Don’t be embarrassed about talking about your bowels! And please sign up and come together and unite at Race for Life because every participant can help make a real difference.
“There would be no research without people doing Race for Life – whether they do it for a family member, a sister a neighbour- you are doing the most amazing thing and giving people the opportunities to stay with their families.
“Thanks to research, I’m now cancer free and will be around to share more precious moments with my family. I’m determined to help others by raising money so Cancer Research UK can ensure even more men, women and children survive.”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy, Half Marathon and Hiking events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner by funding crucial research.
Lauren Robertson, Cancer Research UK’s Carlisle Events Manager, said: “We’d like to send a huge thank you to Emma and everyone in Cumbria who has taken part in Race for Life or sponsored a friend, family member or colleague over the past 20 years.
“We’re absolutely delighted to mark our 21st birthday in Carlisle this year and we’d like to invite mums, daughters, sisters and friends to help us celebrate this amazing milestone. As it’s a big birthday for us, we’re urging women to help us make it a show-stopping year. It’s a great opportunity to sign up now and plan a fantastic outfit for the big day. By joining like-minded ladies committed to the cause, local women can unite against a disease that affects us all in some way.”
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
Lauren continued: “Crucial cancer research is being funded right now thanks to women running, jogging or walking at Race for Life.
“By signing up to Race for Life, women in Cumbria can make a real difference in the fight against cancer. Money raised will help Cancer Research UK scientists and doctors find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease, helping save more lives.”
“Every week, around 60 people are diagnosed with cancer in Cumbria*. That’s why we’re calling on women across the county to sign up to Race for Life and join like-minded women at the start line when events kick off this summer.
“Taking part in Race for Life is a special and unique experience – full of emotion, courage, tears and laughter. Whether they plan to race their way around the course or stroll to the finish line, every step participants take will help to beat cancer sooner.”
To enter Race for Life today visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.
A RACE FOR EVERY PACE – CARLISLE RACE FOR LIFE NEEDS YOU!
- Carlisle Race for Life 15 July 2018
- Lowther Castle Race for Life – 9 and 10 June 2018
- Windermere Race for Life Hike – 19 May 2018
- Hadrian’s Wall Race for Life Hike – 9 June
Walk, jog or run – the choice is yours at Race for Life 5k or 10k
Play dirty in the fight against cancer – take on Pretty Muddy 5k or 10k
Muck about for a good cause – girls and boys sign up now to Pretty Muddy Kids
Clock up the miles at Race for Life Hike
A half marathon with a difference – set yourself a new goal with Race Half Marathon