A diagnosis of breast cancer just spurred Jenny to run and run

Jenny Fairclough ran the Edinburgh Marathon to raise money for Breast Cancer Care
Jenny Fairclough ran the Edinburgh Marathon to raise money for Breast Cancer Care

Jenny Fairclough has always been active and when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was determined it would not stop her.

Even during six months of chemotherapy treatment, she walked nearly every day.

And Jenny, 55, has now raised thousands of pounds for breast cancer charities by taking part in organised walks and runs.

Jenny, from Eccleston, near Chorley, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008.

She said: “I first found a lump around December 2007. I ignored it for about a month because it was just before Christmas and my family were coming to stay.

“Then I asked my husband about it and he packed me off to the doctor.

“It was about December 28 and by early January I was seeing a consultant.

“I wasn’t too worried because it was quite small.”

Jenny had a mammogram, fine needle biopsy and blood tests at Chorley And South Ribble Hospital on January 5.

Because she was 49 years old, she had not been part of the national breast screening programme for people from the age of 50.

That same day, Jenny was told she had breast cancer.

She had a lumpectomy in February 2008 and tests showed the cancer had spread to her lymph glands, so she had them removed the following month.

Jenny said: “I just kept positive. It was a blow, because at that point the consultant said that because my lymph glands had been removed, they would do chemotherapy as well to stop any stray cancer cells spreading to other parts of my body.

“Every single time I got a negative though, I turned it round to a positive.

“It had spread to my lymph nodes, but it hadn’t spread to other parts of my body.”

Jenny had eight rounds of chemotherapy, one every three weeks, and had 20 days of radiotherapy in four weeks.

But she was determined to stay positive and have an active lifestyle.

She said: “I have always been an exerciser – hill walking, cycling, swimming – and was generally quite fit and healthy.

“I spoke to my breast care nurse and she said people like me who tackle it with a positive attitude and carry on with something they enjoy tend to do better with chemo.”

She added: “I walked between one and five miles at first until I started feeling stronger and I built it up.

“During the whole six months of chemotherapy, there were probably about three days when I didn’t walk because I felt a bit off.”

Walking helped Jenny to stay positive and she decided to use it to help others when she had recovered.

“I said to myself, ‘Once I’m through this, when I survive, I want to help Breast Cancer Care because they had been so amazing,’” she said.

“Everyone who has helped me at Chorley and Preston hospitals were fantastic. I had the most positive experience I could hope for.”

In 2009, she walked a marathon in Edinburgh to raise money for Walk The Walk, which supports various breast cancer charities.

The following year, Jenny did the Nijmegen Marches in the Netherlands, walking 25 miles each day for four days.

Jenny said: “My health was getting better and better.

“The more I walked, the healthier I became.”

Walking turned to running in 2012 when a colleague suggested they take part in the Liverpool Spring 10k to raise money for breast cancer charities.

Jenny was initially reluctant to start running, but started following a training plan.

She said: “I didn’t walk for any of it. I took the plan really seriously and I did my first one in one hour and six seconds.

“The six seconds annoyed me so much that I did another one.”

Jenny continued running and completed her second Edinburgh Marathon last Sunday in four hours and 22 minutes – knocking 47 minutes off her previous time.

As well as walking three marathons, Jenny has now run four 10km races, three half marathons and two marathons – raising £9,000 for breast cancer charities.

She has also done 41 consecutive 5km weekly parkruns since August last year, with the majority at Cuerden Valley parkrun.

Jenny also volunteers for Breast Cancer Care at HeadStrong, based at Rosemere Cancer Foundation in Preston, providing advice to cancer patients such as how to wear wigs, headscarves and hats.

Jenny passed the milestone of five years all-clear around 18 months ago, though continues to take medication.

She has also been diagnosed with type-two diabetes and has to take drugs to manage the condition.

But she continues to be active and is now a member of both Red Rose Road Runners and Sweatshop Chorley’s running group.

Jenny, who works in a sixth-form college, said: “I think each year I get stronger and stronger and continue to recover.

“I think ladies who have breast cancer feel they are never going to get any better, but it can take years, especially because of the hangover from chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“Sometimes I still feel very tired. Getting some outdoor fresh air and regular exercise has helped me a lot to come over that.

“I feel better than my old self.

“I feel walking and running has saved me.”

n Jenny is raising money for Breast Cancer Care online at www.justgiving.com/Jenny-Fairclough1.