Living and Running, with Cancer

Date: 17 September 2020   Author: Energise Me

After a secondary Cancer diagnosis meant Elizabeth needed to retire, she was looking for a new challenge. Having recently moved to Portsmouth, she found running was the perfect fit.

I’ve always been reasonably active. I had an office job, but I was always on my feet, getting up and down. In the past, I have tried to join the gym. Back in Belfast when I was younger, but I didn’t continue with it. I felt very body-conscious there and wasn’t comfortable. I have always loved going for walks and I used to attend dance classes.

For a long time, I have wanted to give running a go but I lived in a fairly built-up area. I wanted to be able to go somewhere with few people about and run. Unfortunately, I didn’t think that was possible where I lived in Belfast so I never gave it a go.


Losing my mobility

When I had my primary diagnosis of cancer, I underwent chemo and it really affected my mobility. I still went out for walks when I could, but I had to be careful as my immune system was low. On walks, I had to sit down regularly. This was difficult for me to deal with as someone who had always been in good health.

So as soon as my mobility came back, I was keen to make the most of it. I was so grateful I could go for long walks again. It was all I wanted to do!

There were people of all shapes, sizes and ages there. I didn’t feel self-conscious and I found I really enjoyed myself.

A Secondary Diagnosis

I was then diagnosed with secondary cancer, so I took retirement and in December I moved to Portsmouth to be with my now-husband. Work had always been a challenge but I enjoyed it. Having left work, I felt like something was missing. As if having incurable cancer wasn’t challenging enough! But I wanted something else.

I am on a constant chemo treatment but this time it’s a different type to before. My mobility hasn’t been impacted. So, I decided to find a way of challenging myself. I joined a gym and this time I loved it. There were people of all shapes, sizes and ages there. I didn’t feel self-conscious and I found I really enjoyed myself.

Unfortunately, just as I had really gotten into the swing of going to the gym, we went into lockdown.


Couch to 5k

When lockdown happened, I was eager to still have a challenge. My husband and I would go for walks daily, but I wanted something more. Running had been in the back of my mind for years. I finally lived somewhere with big open spaces nearby. Just a few minutes from the beach. I wouldn’t have to worry about other people watching me.

I had heard of the Couch to 5k and I decided to download the app and give it ago. It’s been a real challenge. When I started, running just 60 seconds was a great effort. But now I’m running 30 minutes plus and loving every minute of it!

It’s been tough but I’ve worked through the weeks. The whole course took me 11 weeks to complete rather than nine, but I listened to my body and only did what I was able to do. I haven’t made it to 5k yet but I am running for a full 30 minutes.

After having a few weeks off to get married, I have now started the programme again. I am going steady with it and not doing more than I can. The app means that I can do the weeks for as long as I want and move on when I am ready. I don’t have to stick strictly to the timeline of 9 weeks.



The Perks of running

Before I started the Couch to 5k, I had started to get pain in my back. In my head, I was fearful it was the cancer spreading. Since I’ve been running the pain has gone. Running has helped me to be the healthiest I’ve ever been. I may have cancer but I am often the one wanting to extend our walks to make them longer even though my husband has a clean bill of health.

My chemo can make me very tired and before I started running I would often go to sleep in the afternoon. Since I’ve been more active this has been happening less. I still have bad days and I have to be careful to listen to my body. Often my mind wants to be out doing something but my body just can’t. But running has given me energy.

Being active for me is being happy! It helps me to be healthier and I have a lot of energy. I want to be out enjoying the nice weather and living my life

I know at some point everything will take a turn for the worse for me but for whatever time I do have left I intend to get out and enjoy life.

My Message to Others:

It is really important to remember that everyone is different. I see myself as lucky. I am in a relatively stable condition and the tumour in my liver is fairly small, at the moment. At the moment I can go out and I can run. I know at some point everything will take a turn for the worse for me but for whatever time I do have left I intend to get out and enjoy life.

For me, a positive mental attitude is the start of it. I have bad moments when I am not having a good day. I can feel sick and not want to or be able to do anything, let alone go for a run. But my attitude is that I am living with cancer and it’s not going away. The outlook is poor but let’s get on with what I do have.

Give running a try

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Couch to 5k

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