St Annes woman with incurable breast cancer takes on Great Manchester Run for The Christie Hospital

A St Annes woman undergoing treatment for secondary breast cancer is taking on the Great Manchester Run to raise funds for The Christie Hospital.

By Lucinda Herbert
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 3:45 pm

47-year-old Esther Parkinson will be running the Great Manchester 10k whilst undergoing treatment for incurable breast cancer, in her ninth year of fundraising for The Christie hospital in Manchester.

Esther was 39 when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer.

She lived cancer-free for eight years, when she started running to raise money for the hospital that changed her life.

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Esther Parkinson training for the Great Manchester Run

And then in 2021 she found out the cancer had come back.

But it won’t stop her from running in the 10k event on 22 May 2022.

Esther, who works for Blackpool Council as an Admin Support, said the treatment has slowed her down but she is determined to keep running.

She said: “The first time round I wanted to fundraise for them because they saved my life and this time because they’re working hard in the fight for me to survive.”

Esther Parkinson at the Great North Run finish line 2021

Although she has reduced her training from three runs a week, to twice a week, and tends to stick to a brisk walk.

It will be Esther’s eighth year running the event, which will be televised on the BBC.

“My energy levels are really affected. But it doesn’t matter if you’re walking or running it because you feel so motivated by the people that are cheering you on.”She loves talking to other runners to find out why they are doing it. It motivates her along the way.“Last year was amazing because a woman stopped me a few yards before the finish line after spotting my story which was written on the back of my top, she said ‘you really inspire me’ and we just started holding hands and shared the experience of crossing the finish line together. It was a really emotional moment.”

Esther started fundraising for The Christie Hospital after she went to them for cancer treatment when she was first diagnosed in 2014.

Esther Parkinson awaiting CT scan

It is one of the largest cancer treatments in Europe.

“It came completely out of the blue. I found the lump, and went to the doctors but never expected to get the diagnosis that I did. My world completely fell apart.”She travelled an hour and a half sometimes weekly for her first treatment at the centre on Windslow Road in Manchester.

Her treatment consisted of six rounds of chemotherapy, 15 sessions of radiotherapy and two lots of surgery - including a mastectomy.“It was stage three and a grade two and whilst I was diagnosed at my local hospital I was advised to go to The Christie for my treatment because it was a specialist hospital. It was the best decision I’ve ever made because they’re at the forefront of everything cancer and they have the proper equipment for the best treatment possible.”

Esther lost her hair and felt exhausted from treatment.

But she was given the all-clear, and lived cancer-free for eight years. Then she started fundraising for The Christie taking part in the Great Manchester Run, as well as The Walk of Hope and The Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge.

Then Esther found a lump on her neck in 2021. Scans revealed the cancer was back and had travelled to different parts of her body.

She was diagnosed with secondary and incurable breast cancer, which meant that it had spread to her spine and some lymph nodes around her sternum.

She is currently getting treatment to prevent the cancer from spreading further, and to help reduce the current tumours.

This includes medication and regular Fulvestrant Injections at The Christie hospital.

She has regular MRI and CT scans which monitor the progress of treatment.

She says, “My hair is thinning because of the treatment, and my stomach feels unsettled most days, I’ve also got what’s medically known as a geographical tongue from the medicine which feels quite weird.“I started off on the highest dose of the medicine possible, which affected my appetite, as I couldn’t stomach food. This resulted in me losing weight. After discussions with my Oncologist, the dose was altered and my appetite greatly improved.

She said: “Without The Christie, I wouldn’t have access to the latest medicine that I have now, so running for them is my way of saying thank you.”