When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July this year, two thoughts immediately popped into my head (writes Shellley Abela). "How will I tell people?" and "When can I start running again?" Telling people was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, I hadn't even got my head round it, and it was a very emotional few weeks. However, I was very lucky as the cancer had been found early and was told with a small operation and radiotherapy the prognosis was excellent.
I am the group leader for Maidstone Run England, and exactly one week after my diagnosis I received a lovely email from Becky Beard asking if anyone in the group would be interested in joining her in her Team Run 12 Challenge next year. Becky is running one marathon every month of 2014 and was looking for six guest runners to each run one marathon with her, with the aim of raising £25,000 for Breast Cancer Care and Cancer Research UK.
I immediately replied back "Yes, me! I want to do it!" It was fate. There followed some very emotional emails and we agreed that we would run London Marathon together as I had already secured a 'good for age' place for 2014 following this year's Brighton Marathon. I am running Brighton again so will be competing in the two marathons one week apart. Friday 4 October saw the launch party for Team Run 12 and I was able to meet the rest of the team. I am so excited and feel privileged to be a part of it, and cannot wait for the challenge next year.
After numerous hospital appointments, I was finally given a date for my lumpectomy on 13 September. The operation went well and I spent a few days resting at home. Being the sort of person I am, I couldn't sit still and do nothing, I was itching for a run, so four days afterwards I went for out for a gentle five miler. I took it really steadily and felt good, but later in the day I started to feel uncomfortable and realised that perhaps it wasn't such a good idea after all, so reluctantly took another 10 days before venturing out again.
I started radiotherapy in October and had the final session on Friday 15 November, another emotional day as I realised I had got through! The cumulative effect of the radiotherapy was quite tiring but I was determined to keep running as much as I could. Two days after finishing radiotherapy I took part in the A20 Paths & Downs Half Marathon finishing in a time of 1:48:26 which I was very pleased with given what I had been through.
I truly believe that my fitness and the way running makes me feel have helped me to get through the last few months and to recover quickly. It is such a huge part of my life and I cannot imagine never running again. I am so looking forward to being part of Team Run 12 next year and having had cancer and got through the other side I now feel I want to push myself further and see what I can really achieve. I am running Portsmouth Marathon on 22 December, and have signed up for the Thames Path Challenge 100k Ultra in September next year, but I can already feel myself itching to do more.