In October 2020 my wonderful niece Clare (Keep Smiling) started a virtual Lands End to John O’Groats fundrasiing bike ride (on an adapted exercise bicycle) for Stand Up To Cancer.
She took this on despite suffering a myriad of ongoing health problems many of them brought on by aggressive treatment for endometrial cancer and including neuropathy and spasticity affecting her left side which meant that outdoors she needed a wheelchair and indoors used other mobility aids. She was extraordinarily determined to complete this challenge but sadly had to give up on doctor’s orders earlier this year after raising £420.
Clare turned 40 on 17th July 2021, and as part of my birthday gift to her I am taking over her fundraising challenge. But I don’t cycle and I have already completed a Lands End to John O’Groats Virtual Challenge this year. So here I am starting this 870 mile walk which will virtually take me along the Wales Coastal Path.
Let me tell you a little bit more about Clare. In 2013 at the young age of 32 she was diagnosed with aggressive endometrial cancer. She underwent a full hysterectomy, had five chemotherapy sessions; 25 external radiotherapy sessions and 19 hours of internal radiotherapy (brachyotherapy). Her family and friends are supremely grateful that the treatment worked against the cancer. Clare currently has no visible signs of the cancer which could have taken her life. But she hasn’t gotten off scot free by any means. Already suffering poor lung health and other medical problems prior to her cancer diagnosis Clare is now severely disabled following the damage done to her body by the treatment that saved her life. But her tag line “Keep Smiling” says it all. Not only has she faced up to the extraordinary challenges, more often than not with a smile on her face, but she has become an active campaigner to raise awareness of womb cancer (and other cancers) especially in younger women. She is an Ambassador for Stand Up To Cancer and Cancer Research UK, appearing on the SUTC telethon and does media work and other representational activities to raise awareness and support fundraising. But more than that her kindness, generosity of spirit and inspirational sharing of her own story has been of great support to others fighting cancer and their family and friends.
I am very proud of my niece Clare.