A brave Blackpool mum who has been battling cancer for the past two years will take centre stage at this year’s Race For Life.
Mum-of-two Sarah Colledge will be guest of honour at the Cancer Research UK event, on Blackpool Promenade on July 1, and says she is determined to show cancer hell hath no fury like a woman in pink.
The 37-year-old is encouraging other mums, daughters, sisters and friends to help her take on the disease, by entering the Race for Life – which will include 5k and 10k routes this year.
Sarah, who lives with partner Kenny and their two children, William, 14 and Eve, 11, was fit and active prior to her diagnosis and ran her own cleaning business.
But in 2013, she discovered a lump in her lower left stomach, following a routine operation. Tests revealed it was a fluid-filled ovarian cyst, which was removed during further surgery at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. Despite being assured everything had gone well with the operation, Sarah started to suffer excruciating pain and told doctors she could feel a rapidly growing lump in her stomach.
The pain became so bad Sarah had to give up work and could barely move. She underwent a biopsy and while she was waiting for the results, she was admitted to hospital after a serious episode of bleeding, vomiting and stomach cramps.
Doctors initially thought she could have ovarian cancer, but following CT, MRI scans and X-Rays, Sarah was told she had an unknown primary cancer.
She said: “I didn’t know what that meant and could not get my head around it. It was horrible telling my partner and children, but I think I knew after months of hospital and GP visits this would end in a cancer diagnosis.”
Sarah was told most of the cancer was in her bowel and if she didn’t undergo major surgery, her prognosis stood at around six months.
Two weeks later, she underwent an 11-hour operation – which involved a hysterectomy, lower left stomach muscles being removed, major reconstruction of the abdomen, partial removal of the bowel, a colostomy and stents in the bladder. The surgeon also had to shave some of Sarah’s hip bone off, as the cancer had started to grow there. She now has permanent numbness in the top of her leg and has to use strong painkillers. After six months of chemotherapy, her scans came back clear and she was feeling confident about the future.
But sadly 12 months later, Sarah was told the cancer had returned. She has since been receiving further chemotherapy treatment and a recent CT scan showed the treatment has visibly shrunk the tumour.
She said: “I was preparing myself for the worst, when the latest scan results came back.
“It was a total shock to hear some good news for once and the doctors were absolutely delighted with the results, too. Research into cancer is just so important. I know without research I might not be here now.
“My prognosis may not be good, but I would urge every woman in Blackpool to think about signing up for Race for Life to help future generations affected by the disease.
“It’s an absolute honour to be setting the runners off and helping to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
“When I was initially diagnosed with cancer, my sisters took part in Race for Life in Blackpool, so it’s lovely to be able to attend the event and share my story with the women taking part.”
Sarah is also planning a sky dive in August in aid of Cancer Research UK.
The Race For Life is a series of women-only 5k and 10k events to raise money for Cancer Research UK.
This year, organisers need 3,100 women and girls in Blackpool to rally together to help raise £147,850 for vital research.
Visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.