Driving home from hospital after being diagnosed with cancer, 38-year-old teacher Rachel Harris vowed that, no matter what, she would run the Sheffield Half Marathon when she was aged 40.
On Sunday 14th April she will fulfil that promise having been given the all clear by her doctor last October.
From the moment Rachel, who lives in Dore with her husband, Matt, and two young children, received her diagnosis of colon cancer in September 2017 she was determined to beat the illness.
“I lost my mum to breast cancer when I was 13-years-old so the thought of my children losing their mum – that was just not an option.”
Rachel was determined to stay fit and healthy during her treatment and targeting the Asda Foundation Sheffield Half Marathon gave her the focus and motivation to stay as fit as possible.
“After the initial diagnosis, we found out that the tumours had spread to my liver and lymphatic system and that I was not operable. I was told that the only treatment they could give me was chemo and that it was unlikely I’d ever be cured.
“However, I refused to believe this and did everything in my power to ensure I’d get through this – I drastically changed my diet, I started taking supplements, I juiced, I meditated, I did Reiki, I did acupuncture, I used affirmations, I visualised and I exercised.
“One of my visualisations was running through Dore healthy and well, doing the Sheffield Half with my family cheering me on. I would be as active as possible throughout my chemo doing whatever I felt like I could, sometimes short walks, sometimes a run. I would even go on the exercise bike with my chemo infusion on – I’m not sure if exercise helped me to get better, but it made me feel so much better.
“Between all these surgical procedures I would get back to training as soon as the surgeon gave me the go ahead, not only in prep for the half marathon which was always at the forefront of my mind but to prepare my body for the next lot of treatment.”
After six rounds of chemotherapy, Rachel was told the treatment had shrunk her tumours and doctors were now prepared to operate to remove all visible signs of cancer. There followed three operations in February, April and August last year.
Then came the news she had longed for.
“On October 25th 2018 my consultant called to say that there was no longer any visible sign of cancer.
“They have been amazing to me and my family. They provide incredible support as well as complementary therapies which have been key in my recovery. We are so incredibly lucky to have such a place in Sheffield.”
Having run the Percy Pud 10K last December, Rachel is now building towards the half marathon and is using the challenge to raise money for Cavendish Cancer Support.
Rachel is looking forward to tackling the 13.1-mile route, which passes through Dore and crossing the city centre finish line.
“We have cheered on the runners before and I think it would make my kids proud of their Mum to be cheering her on this year.
“I think it will be so incredibly emotional. I have lived that moment every day in my head and to actually do it will feel out of this world.”