Cancer mum set for charity run - day after chemo
A WOMAN who has been battling cancer for five years is preparing to take part in a fundraising run – a day after undergoing chemotherapy.
Leigh Richards was first diagnosed with breast cancer while she was pregnant with her son Toby. He was delivered early by Caesarean so that she could start treatment for the disease.
And ever since, the mum of three has been undergoing treatments related to the cancer including surgery to remove her breasts and ovaries. It is now in her chest wall, lymph nodes and bones.
The 41-year-old is determined to raise money for Cancer Research UK in the hope that others do not have to go through what she has experienced.
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And now Mrs Richards, of Bedminster, has recruited a team of friends and family to take part in the charity's 10km Race for Life event on the Downs next month
She was first diagnosed with cancer in 2007 while 32 weeks pregnant with her son after discovering a lump in her breast. Three weeks later her son was delivered and then cancer treatment started with a mastectomy and lymph node removal followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
It took Mrs Richards, who runs a cattery, about 18 months to get over the initial cancer treatment and then tests showed that she has the BRCA1 gene, which is associated with a stronger risk of cancer, so had precautionary surgery to remove her other breast and ovaries.
"Almost as quickly as I healed after having the second mastectomy I got the cancer back. I went through chemotherapy for that and it finished on Christmas Eve 2009 but then another lump was found on Boxing Day.
"They changed chemo and tried another chemo but it grew back, so then they tried another – that didn't work."
Mrs Richards was then referred to the Royal Marsden in London, who sent her to its sister hospital in Surrey to take part in a drugs trial – a genetic inhibitor, which worked well for six months.
But then the cancer returned and another five months of chemotherapy treatment started.
"They have been chucking every chemo at it to see which one it responds to," Mrs Richards said.
"It does shrink but it never goes away and I will always have cancer now .
"My three children haven't really known any different apart from a life with cancer. It is a huge part in our lives and we are trying to make the most of living every day as much as we possibly can.
"We want to experience everything and have just been to Disney with the kids."
As well as five-year-old Toby, Mrs Richards and her husband have two daughters, Maisie, nine, and Poppy, eight, who will be taking part in the Race for Life on June 9 with Leigh and her Lush Ladies.
"I have decided for some crazy reason that, even though I will be exhausted from chemotherapy, I will do the Race for Life.
"The support has been absolutely incredible and I already have more than 30 people in Leigh's Lush Ladies doing it with me.
"I have got lots of amazing friends who have made it through cancer, people who have been affected by cancer and friends and my daughters and they are going to drag me around for Race for Life."
The team will be dressed in pink and sporting pink wigs and hats.
They have raised £4,785 so far, including a donation from the Axentis Michael charitable trust, which was set up in memory of the owner of Weston Pier Kerry Michael's father who died of cancer. Mrs Richards said: "It is going to be a traumatic day. Chemotherapy is vile and what it does to you is horrible but it does kill cancer cells.
"I just want everybody to have a really gorgeous day and want to get some money for Cancer Research UK.
To support Mrs Richards and her team visit www.raceforlifesponsor me.org/leighs-lush-ladies.