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Running into Survivorship

Sara Hawkins, Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer Survivor.

Sara Hawkins, Ovarian Germ Cell Cancer Survivor

As a young ovarian cancer survivor, when I approached The Robin Cancer Trust to share my story and see what I could do to help use my experience to shout about the message of cancer awareness, what I didn’t expect, was that I would catch THE RUNNING BUG!

Say what?! I am the most unnatural runner. I have always hated running and wondered how or why people may want this in their lives. What kind of person does that?! (So it turns out, ME!)

The Robin Cancer Trust has its own online running club. My goodness, I didn’t know what I was letting myself in for. Through the medium of Facebook, I was encouraged to take part and was able to share my journey through couch to 5k, discovering Parkrun, being flabbergasted as I saw my progress, learning about a runners high, buying my first pair of running trainers… The firsts went on and on!

When I was unwell, I had to endure two major abdominal surgeries that shot my core, hip flexors and to a certain degree my confidence in my body to bits.

Running has given me a licence to know that although my body is battered and bruised in part, it is still capable of so much. The Robin Cancer Trust’s running club helped me to believe in myself again. It has offered me structure, focus, support and community.

It has helped me to believe that anything is possible. As a group we have complete beginners, people who enjoy walking, slow jogging, ‘jeffing’, to some pretty hardcore, talented and knowledgeable runners. But what strikes me as the most special thing is how inclusive it is. Everybody has each other’s backs. We all share in each other’s victories, pick each other up if there has been a bad run, share jokes, sweaty selfies, memes, share advice, tips and the odd bit of ‘Strava art!’ It doesn’t matter how experienced you are, we are all the same.

I will be forever grateful. In 2018 I was lay in a hospital bed, where my goals were as simple as to sit up, stand or walk a few steps. Now, because of The Robin Cancer Trust, I can proudly call myself a runner. I run every week. It is part of my life now. What I used to believe unachievable is now my warm up. I can comfortably run 10km and am training for the Colchester Virtual Half Marathon.

What is my message? I guess I want to shout about how running has been an outlet for me, my recovery, my mental health and survivorship. It has become part of my identity and I cannot wait to see where it takes me.

The charity has done so much for me. A gratitude I will struggle to repay. But I know it has potential to do so much for so many others. The Robin Cancer Trust genuinely wants raise awareness by educating young people on the signs and symptoms of testicular and ovarian cancer. It wants to offer support to those diagnosed. I can tell you from bitter experience. Nothing makes you feel more alone than those words, “you have cancer” and we want to connect survivors through an amazing community, giving a voice to people just like me.

If you have signed up to Colchester Virtual Half Marathon, I want to say a heartfelt thank you. Your part in this event all contributes to the amazing work that we are doing. You are already making a difference to us.

If you haven’t already, I would implore you to set up a sponsorship page. Any fundraising that you can do would help and more than anything I would love to have you part of our movement.

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