A RUNNER from Chester is braving a half-marathon on Sunday, just a month after finishing treatment for breast cancer.
Nathalie Rees, 42, who is a veteran marathon runner, will be happy if she finishes the Essar Four Villages challenge in Helsby and doesn’t care if she ends up walking the course.
Nathalie, mum to 12-year-old Rebecca, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March last year.
She said: “I was sitting on the sofa and I had an itch. I scratched and thought: ‘What is this little lump?’ I went to my GP who sent me for a mammogram and then a biopsy.
“On April 5 I was given the bad news that I had cancer.”
Nathalie, who is originally from Belgium, describes how she felt when she received the devastating news.
“It was complete standstill shock. I had run the New York marathon in 2010 and thought I was fit and healthy. You then start to think things like ‘will I see my daughter grow up?’
“I looked on the internet, which is the natural thing to do, to see that the survival rate prognosis for my triple-negative grade 3 cancer was about 50%, which is not that good.
“So I took the information to my consultant who sat me down and looked at my personal circumstances: age, fitness etc and she told me that my prognosis was nearer 75%-80% and with chemotherapy, 90%.
“I would urge anyone to discuss their case with their doctors before jumping to conclusions. And I would urge all women to check their breasts regularly.”
Nathalie underwent a lumpectomy followed by six months of chemotherapy and further radiotherapy treatment which ended just before Christmas.
“It really helped me to talk to other people who had gone through the same thing. I am a member of the Chester Triathlon Club and one or two people there have been really helpful sharing how they coped through treatment.”
Nathalie describes herself as ‘fortunate’ as she only suffered some nausea throughout the chemotherapy treatment.
“I was most upset about the hair loss,” she said, although she was buoyed up by support from Rebecca who drew a lovely picture of her mum wearing a bandana with a message saying ‘mummy, you can do anything’. The picture is on Nathalie’s desk at the University of Chester where she is careers research and information manager.
Nathalie and husband David are now looking forward to a postponed 20th wedding anniversary trip to Rome before she takes on her next big challenge – the Virgin London Marathon in April.
“I ran a marathon in Belgium in 2009 and then the Tokyo marathon and the New York marathon in 2010.
“I was registered to run the Berlin marathon in September last year but couldn’t do it because of my treatment. I’ve always wanted to do the London Marathon and had applied in the ballot. I didn’t get a place but someone recommended running it for a local charity and I contacted the Hospice of the Good Shepherd who gave me one of their places.
“I need to raise £1,500 for the hospice and have already got £1,100.”
Nathalie’s marathon time is between four and four and a half hours and, despite her gruelling treatment, she would like to complete the 26.2-mile course in under five hours.
“I can’t set myself any sort of expectation other than to finish it.”
To sponsor Nathalie’s marathon mission for the Hospice of the Good Shepherd visit www.justgiving.com/Nathalie-Rees.