Sometimes people have amazing stories that you are just not aware of. Mandy had been at the running club I go to for years before I joined. I knew she was a good runner and was aware that she had run the New York Marathon but no idea about her reasons why (she runs too quickly for me to run a chatty pace with her). I am therefore honoured to share her inspirational story here with you today.
Inspirational Runners: Mandy’s Story
I went through an early menopause back in 2009, but didn’t want to take HRT. I was concerned about osteoporosis and knew that weight bearing exercise increases bone density, so I started running. I ran on my own that year and ran the Tewkesbury half marathon as a goal, unfortunately once that was over it was harder to find the motivation to go running. Later that year a friend told me about an all ladies running group she had joined, so at the beginning of 2010 I started running with them. It was the women’s running network back then and led by the amazing Kerry.
Going Backwards with Running
Initially I was in the middle of the pack but as the weeks went by I seemed to be going backwards whereas everyone else was improving. I was frustrated and annoyed with myself but everyone was supportive and I was never left to run alone. After a couple of awful runs I stopped running with them with the intention of trying to improve my stamina on my own.
Nothing worked so I went to the GP and asked for a blood test to see if I was anaemic. I felt a bit silly complaining about not being able to run but the test was done. My GP was on the phone to me as soon as the result was through as my haemoglobin was so low, I think she was checking I was still walking. I should have known what was going on, being a nurse, but it’s surprising how the body adapts and how you can dismiss things when they happen gradually. I was prescribed high doses of iron and quickly improved.
Although it solved the mystery of why I couldn’t run, the cause of the anaemia was still unknown. I joined the running group again and was amazed that I could run again. Once I came off the iron my anaemia returned and this time I was sent for further tests. Eventually early in 2011 I was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Working as an oncology nurse, I knew what was to come and continued to run right up until my operation, I wanted to be as fit as I could to cope with the surgery. I was back to running within a few weeks of surgery and even managed to run during my chemo, when I wasn’t suffering side effects. The running club was always really supportive and I was really touched when they brought cake to celebrate finishing treatment.
Ticking off the Bucket List
After finishing treatment I started ticking things off my bucket list, starting with another half marathon. I promised myself that if I got a clear scan at two years I would run the London Marathon the year after, which is exactly what I did, running for Beating Bowel Cancer. I followed that by the Ride London 100 mile bike ride the following year.
In 2018 my husband had treatment for cancer, and I don’t know what I would have done without running. It was my head space and always helped me cope with everything going on at home. At the end of that year I ran New York City Marathon and having all the family with me to watch was the icing on the cake.
Running has helped so much over the last few years and I use running as a barometer for my health; if I can run I’m well. I have also raised around £10,000 for charity over the last few years.