FORMER district nurse Carol Tedham is preparing to take on the Race for Life – after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer for the third time.
The 50-year-old from South Farm, Chiseldon, was first diagnosed with a severe case of the disease in 2011 after finding a lump in her stomach.
She said: “I knew I had put on some weight but my stomach had really grown, and I thought ‘this isn’t right, I only tried on these clothes last week’.
“Then I noticed while we were on the flight to America that I kept having to pop to the loo.
“They diagnosed me with stage three ovarian cancer.
“Even though I was a district nurse I didn’t know a lot about ovarian cancer and all I could think of was that there was a life expectancy of about five years.
“It was such a shock because I felt so well, and looking back now there were no obvious symptoms something was wrong.
“I felt well, which was why I couldn’t believe I had cancer. Everything happened so quickly, it’s a bit of a blur really.”
But while she was waiting for the results to come through, tragedy struck the family when her father Alan, who had been battling bowel cancer, died at the age of 78.
She said: “He didn’t die from cancer but he was fighting it for a while.”
Although it was initially postponed, Carol did have a hysterectomy as well as undergoing six sessions of radiotherapy before going into remission for the next nine months.
But by October 2012, the cancer was back.
She said: “I don’t think I appreciated that first eight or nine months of remission. I didn’t really make the most of it, I just thought ‘the cancer is gone’.
“When it came back a second time I was so down about it. I had six more sessions of chemotherapy and all my hair came out again after it had grown back. It was tough. It was so thin and I decided just to cut it off and shave my head.”
Once again Carol went into remission, but this time she made the decision to make the most of whatever time she had left.
She said: “You’ve just got to make the most of it.
“Just the thought of missing my granddaughter grow up is what really worries me.
“But things are a lot better these days and there are people who have survived ovarian cancer.
“I also had myself tested to check to see whether I had the gene but fortunately I don’t, it’s just me who is the unlucky one, which is a relief.”
Earlier this year at a check-up, Carol discovered that the cancer had returned for a third time, and is preparing to undergo even more chemotherapy next month.
But she is determined not to let the cancer beat her, and is taking on the Race For Life to remind cancer who is boss.
She said: “I have always supported charities and I don’t think people really realise how important it is to support Cancer Research UK until they have been through it themselves.
“I’ve taken part in Race for Life for three years – ever since my diagnosis and my Dad’s death.
“That gives me hope and I want that to be the case for so many other people going through a similar thing.
“Despite my cancer I am living life to the absolute full and will continue fighting.”
This year, the Race For Life at Lydiard Park to raise money for Cancer Research UK will have two routes. The 10km race will take place on May 31 and the 5km course will take place on June 1.
To find out more about the race or to enter, call 0845 600 6050 or visit www.raceforlife.org.