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Chester mum starts Race for Life Chester on anniversary of her cancer surgery

Francine Mitchell will sound the horn to herald beginning of Chester Racecourse event

Race starter Francine Mitchell (centre) with daughter Chloe Coathupe (left) and friend Gail Taylor (right)

A Chester woman will mark one year since her operation for breast cancer by being the official starter at the city’s Race for Life on Sunday.

Francine Mitchell, 47, of Saltney, will be invited on stage to talk about her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer, at the event at Chester Racecourse which is expected to raise £110,000 for Cancer Research UK .

Francine will then start the sounding horn to set the 1,900 participants off on their 5k race which begins at 9am.

The mother-of-one, who works for Tesco, said she discovered a lump in her breast while lying in bed and at first thought it might just be a cyst.

Race starter Francine Mitchell (centre) with daughter Chloe Coathupe (left) and friend Gail Taylor (right)

She said: “It was a normal Saturday - I went to Chester Races and had a fun day with my family and friends. Little did I know then that that evening my world would change.

“I’m very fortunate as my sister-in-law is a breast care nurse and I went to see her the next day at home. She advised me to see my GP as soon as possible and I saw her the very next day. She referred me to the breast care centre at the Countess of Chester and I went for a mammogram the following day.

“I can’t remember how I really felt when I went for my mammogram and ultrasound. I just remember hearing it didn’t look like a cyst. They took a biopsy and I went in to speak to the consultant to discuss their findings. They already thought it was cancer from the imagery but I had to wait until Friday for the biopsy results. That’s when I realised this was really happening to me. Friday it was confirmed and from finding my lump to diagnosis was exactly one week.

“I really wasn’t expecting them to say it was cancer. At first I didn’t want to believe it and it felt a bit surreal. But I was lucky because they had found it early.”

Francine and sister in law Jackie Phillips at Race for Life Chester in 2015

Francine, who is married to husband Ian – known as Mitch, had a lumpectomy on July 13 last year and joined in with friends and family at last year’s Race for Life on July 26.

She said: “I’d done Race for Life before because I’d had friends who had been affected but it was very emotional last year. Having been through cancer, this year I want to take part to give something back.”

Francine was fortunate not to need chemotherapy and in September started a course of 25 radiotherapy sessions which she completed in October.

Chester mum urges women to sign up for Race For Life

She said: “I feel I have come a long way since that week first week when I found the lump. I never felt unwell and couldn’t believe it was happening to me, I felt tired after the radiotherapy but went back to work at the end of November on reduced hours and I am slowly becoming me again.

“I have down days and sometimes feel like a fraud when people are concerned or sympathetic because I really am OK. Cancer can happen to anyone but you don’t expect it to be you. I have had excellent care and support and look forward to the rest of my life - whatever it brings I am stronger than I thought!”

Chloe Coathupe (Francines daughter), Gail Taylor, Francine Mitchell, Elizabeth Phillips and Stephanie Powell

Francine will take part in Race for Life with her daughter Chloe Coathupe and her friends Gail Taylor and Elizabeth Phillips.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, takes place at Chester Racecourse, New Crane Street, Chester, on Sunday, July 17 at 9am.

The women-only event is one of a series taking place around the UK this year which together help raise millions of pounds every year to help fund life-saving research.

Cancer Research UK Race for Life Chester event manager Laura Taylor said: “We have over 1,900 women taking part in Chester. It is going to be a great day doing something for a really important cause. Every day, around 110 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West. Race for Life Chester hopes to raise £110,000 which will help Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research which is helping to save the lives of men, women and children across the North West and the UK.”

Women can enter Race for Life Chester until midnight on Friday, July 15 visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.

To sponsor Francine, visit: http://www.justgiving.com/francinemitchell7

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