Right before Kay was set to complete the Great North Run in 2014, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Two years later, she is returning to take on her ‘unfinished business’ – but this time she is raising funds for an important cause.
When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2014 I had already started training for that year’s Great North Run. As I was processing the rollercoaster of emotions at 100 miles per hour, it dawned on me that I wouldn’t be able to do the Run – it then became my unfinished business.
That what cancer does – it leaves so much unfinished business. My beloved father passed away from prostate cancer when I was only 28 and unfortunately he left behind unfinished business: meeting his 2nd grandchild; his 40th Wedding Anniversary and the holiday he and Mum had dreamed of for years.
'I'm not finished!'
Once the shock had worn off, and after the many hours I spent recovering from surgeries and chemotherapy, I decided that this disease was not going to leave me with unfinished business. My children were only 15 and 11 – I wasn’t finished guiding them and teaching them how to be adults. I certainly hadn’t finished housetraining my husband! I wasn’t finished being a daughter. I wasn’t finished with my hair or my breasts. I just wasn’t finished.
Breast cancer is a cruel and heart-breaking disease - it strips you of your femininity and your confidence as a woman, leaving you open and vulnerable. BUT, these days it can leave you. If caught early enough, breast cancer can be eradicated: becoming finished business. My Auntie was diagnosed just after me with peritoneal cancer, and we started chemo on the same day. Tragically she passed away less than a year later and she left a lot of unfinished business, not least her much-longed for Grandson.
Getting back to business
So once I had completed my chemo and recovered my emotional and physical strength, I set about finishing the things that breast cancer had put on pause. I started to lose weight as steroids had left me with a 3.2 stone gain. We extended our house and had a massive party to celebrate life and the future. I guided my son through his exams and into his first job; my daughter into her teenage years; and I finally taught my husband how to stack and empty the dishwasher.
I am so incredibly lucky. Many people, including my own family, aren’t as lucky. My cancer (we called it Betsy as I didn’t want the word to be given any credence in our house) was caught, treated and finished – I was one of the lucky ones.
Now I finally feel strong enough to reclaim another piece of unfinished business – I will do this year’s Great North Run but in my mind it will be 2014. I am running to raise funds to help other ladies tell their Betsy’s to leave; that they also have unfinished business that they need to get back to.
Inspired by Kay's story? Sign up for the 2017 Great North Run and help us meet our ambition that by 2050, everyone who develops breast cancer will live.