Earlier this year, Paula decided to do something both crazy and inspiring: swim 26.2 continuous miles to raise money for breast cancer research. Here's how she got on with her challenge...

Friday 28 October 2016      Challenge events blog
Paula’s marathon challenge

Paula with friends and family after her swim

Paula made the decision that on 6 August 2016, she would do something both crazy and inspiring: swim 26.2 continuous miles to raise money for breast cancer research. She expected it to be difficult and cold – but what came as a wonderful surprise was the overwhelming support of her local community, friends and her family.

Two years ago, one of Paula’s closest friends, Julie, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Julie underwent surgery to remove her lymph nodes, she had a mastectomy, and went through the gruelling experience of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Thanks to modern medicine, Julie has come out the other side amazingly - yet still has a long journey ahead of her, due to various complications and a future reconstruction on the horizon. Through all of this, Julie has remained strong and continues to fight this terrible disease.

Taking on the challenge

An avid runner, Julie has completed 12 half marathons and 3 full marathons. To give Julie something to focus on during her treatment, Paula suggested that when Julie is better, she should aim to do yet another marathon in aid of breast cancer research. Julie agreed, the trade-off being that in return Paula would swim the same distance for the same cause. Thus, Paula’s training began for her 26.2 mile swim at the Nemes Dive Centre, Holborough Lakes (near Snodland). It was a continuous swim in just a swimming costume, hat and goggles – no wetsuit!

Throughout her extensive training, and during the event, Paula has received overwhelming support from her local community, friends and family.

“Everyone has been so fantastic. I’ve had support crews coming out on the lakes from midnight to help and look after me (at no cost), people offering sponsorship all over the place, swimmers at the lake that swam laps with me on the day to keep me company, local people hung out bunting from their balconies, people baked cakes to sell during the day. The support on the day was overwhelming.”

A family affair

Paula’s whole family have been involved. Not only did they spend most of the day on the lakes in kayaks, giving her much-needed support, but her husband Jason and eldest son, 14 year old Callum, have acted as Paula’s PR agents. They have been getting the word out via today’s modern technology, tirelessly sending Paula’s story out on Facebook and to local communities.

Paula’s 12-year-old son, Liam, has been busy raising funds and awareness at his school. Without telling his mother, Liam had the courage to approach his headmaster and arrange a meeting to discuss his fundraising plans and ask permission to set up a stall at school. Having gained permission, Paula and Liam requested materials from Breast Cancer Now and gave out wristbands, pin badges, stickers and pens for a donation towards breast cancer research.

Liam thoroughly enjoyed his experience fundraising, and raised an impressive £82 all by himself at school and a further £171 at the lake side on the day. Paula proudly tells us;

“Liam really got swept up in it. He has come home today with a special award from school for being brave enough to go to the Head Master and organise the fundraising. It looks like we have a budding fundraiser on our hands!”

We are pleased to report that Paula’s 26.2 mile marathon swim was a success, taking her 16 hours, 18 minutes and the ‘all important’ 1 second.

Paula has gone on to raise over £8,000 through her incredible challenge. Paula and her family’s story reminds us that we are never too young or old to fundraise, or to advocate for a cause that we care about. Here at Breast Cancer Now we care about ending breast cancer, so that by 2050 every woman who is diagnosed will live. We are so inspired by Julie, Paula and her family.

Visit Paula's JustGiving page

Get involved

If you would like to be a part of our community or take on a challenge in aid of breast cancer research, we would love to meet you! Take a look at our challenge events or visit our fundraising pages for inspiration.