I come from a very theatrical family in Sunny Blackpool, England, my mother was a professional ball room dancer, and my two sisters were professional theatre dancers, and as for my father, well he was a professional footballer, he played for Blackpool and Manchester City back in the 1950’s.
I was known as the running doctor who was frequently spotted running through my small town. If I missed a day of running I heard about it in the office. I’m now known as the running doctor with cancer and can still be seen running through town! Running and exercise play a key role in my life and in my ability to live with cancer.
I try to regulate my breath, concentrate on putting one foot in front on the other. It’s kilometre nine of the Tiree 10K. It is a sunny day in the beginning of May. The wind, still cold from the winter, sweeps in my face. Despite me being tired I can’t stop smiling.
Breast Cancer at age 45, never what I expected as a reasonably fit but slightly overweight GP. We had always been taught that it is a disease of older women. This was eleven years ago. There was talk about goji berries, broccoli and healthy eating but nothing about exercise. Through chemo I walked (at a sedentary pace) though nobody really wanted to let me. Then after a mastectomy I went back to doing weights (against all medical advice) and only suffered minor lymphoedema after a freak accident with a runaway marquee.
It’s well documented that patients with cancer often encounter concerns relating to their body image. From changes to skin, hair, and weight, to losing breasts and gaining stoma bags, no-one wants to look like a “cancer patient”. For me, it was the drastic change in my legs that hit the hardest.
Running has always been a mental thing for me. Some days it has taken all my will power to push myself out the door and yet I’ve found running to be hugely beneficial in helping me cope with life’s ups and downs. Although running is physical; moving my limbs, getting out of breath and pushing myself, it’s been always three-quarters mental and one-quarter physical for me.
In 2016 I held a “test pilot” for an idea that I had since I created my web site in 2013. This was for an exercise retreat based where I lived in the beautiful Saddleworth area of Greater Manchester. I had been posting on social media about my exercise what I had been doing, running, cycling and walking in the area and had built interest due to the scenery but then people started being interested in the exercise.