Teaching assistant who survived breast cancer urges people to join her for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life
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Donna Russell, from Kirkham, was shocked after finding a lump on her right breast which wasn’t there just a day earlier in 2019.
Having lost her dad to cancer, Donna felt anxious and immediately booked an appointment with her GP. Within days the lump was already growing in width. Following a mammogram and biopsy, Donna was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer.
Donna, who works at St Michael’s C of E Primary in Kirkham, hadn’t realised there was a history of breast cancer in the family as nobody had ever discussed it. But once she started to chat to relatives, she discovered an aunt and cousin on her dad’s side of the family had both died of the disease.
The 42-year-old had her right breast removed at Chorley and South Ribble Hospital, but the cancer had already spread to her lymph nodes so Donna underwent five months of chemotherapy followed by daily radiotherapy for a month.
She still needs regular check-ups and bone infusions. Donna is also doing yoga to build up her right arm strength after the lymph nodes were removed. But other than her previous brown curly hair growing back as straight and grey following chemotherapy, she is back to her old self.
When is Race for Life this summer?
Having always kept fit, Donna had been a regular Race for Life participant prior to her cancer diagnosis. She’s now preparing to take part at Race for Life Blackpool on Wednesday, July 3 on the Promenade.
Race for Life events will also take place at Preston’s Moor Park on Saturday, June 10 and at Witton Park in Blackburn on Wednesday, June 14.
Donna said: “Cancer was a tough thing to go through and it was initially scary when the lump on my breast was growing so quickly, but other than 10 days during chemo when I felt awful, I promised myself I wouldn’t allow myself to feel ill and would crack on with the treatment.
“I was fortunate to complete all the treatment just before the start of the pandemic or it would have been a very different experience.
“We all have a reason to Race for Life. For me, it will be a chance to say thank you and to raise money to help others facing cancer right now. It’s thanks to advances in research and treatments that I’m here and can enjoy more special moments with my family and friends.”
30th year of Race for Life
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life includes 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events. This is the 30th year of Race for Life and participants will receive a special medal to mark the milestone.
Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in the north west, said: “We’d love for as many people as possible to join us during our 30th year of Race for Life. Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way. Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life.”