Always on the move: Sarah’s story

Sarah is an inspiration to everyone around her. While I may have only conversed with her through a few emails, I can already tell what an exciting, interesting and inspirational character she is. Just reading about her story and her journey has made me more motivated and excited about life, and I hope it will do the same for you.

Sarah has always been an avid athlete; completing running races and triathlons for a considerable time. In November 2017, after finishing one such triathlon, she notices a lump growing on her calf. She did not consider cancer. But after the melanoma spread to her lymph nodes and a larger tumour could be found in her hip, she went to the hospital.

Sarah speaks of her cancer treatment as if it’s simply another one of her much-loved races. She presents herself as ‘the proud owner’ of 3 battle scars after the removal of tumours from her hip, groin and chest. During this period she hails Dr Paul Nathan (senior oncologist at Mt Vernon Hospital) as her ‘hero’. He suggested immunotherapy; a treatment that would not only help keep the cancer at bay but allow her to stay active. He helped her through the treatment, but they bonded over this shared love of staying active.

As a long-distance cyclist himself (at that time he was raising money for CTRT doing as such), Dr Nathan was the inspiration for Sarah’s own fund-raising. Helping her to deal with the changes that cancer had brought, he signed her up to run the London Marathon in April 2020. She explains the idea as ‘scary and exhilarating’. While running numerous half marathons and shorter distances, she had never attempted such a huge distance before. What came next was a joyful period for Sarah and her friends and family. They rose an exceptional £3,500 for CTRT, but more importantly, she had the best time! Her weekends involved training, laughter, rain, mud and breakfasts in cafes, and before she knew it she could complete 19 miles (here she modestly claims this is very slowly, but I fail to believe this!).

We all know the story of March 2020, the never-ending lockdown due to COVID-19. However, for Sarah this was combined with the effects of cancer and during this first lockdown, she was unfortunately unable to run or walk. While the marathon was postponed to October, she found that she had lost a lot of strength and stamina.

Not accepting defeat, Sarah powered on. The Virtual London Marathon was carried out on the 4th October 2020. Sarah describes this as ‘one of the most joyful days of my life’. Over the course of 12 hours, Sarah managed to walk the entire distance of the London Marathon. What strikes me most with this story, is the extent to which her friends and family surrounded her and spurred her on throughout this process. To mention just two; her mum provided drinks and biscuits in her garage for their first pit-stop and her sister (who had never walked over 3 miles before) walked the entire distance. Sarah, ever the optimist, tells how cancer has brought her closer to the people she loves and has shown how much other people can love. She claims it has made her aware of the delicacy of life, how things can change so fast. Sarah now has tumours in her brain. Aware that her life is likely to change drastically once again, she realises this is now something she can embrace.

What I hope I have conveyed in this short blog post, is Sarah’s absolute earnest honesty and joyful character. Her emails are littered with emojis, catchphrases and simply a joy for life. Sarah has certainly shown me how precious life is; throughout the darkest of times, she has created a happy and fun atmosphere in order to thrive. It has been an honour to convey to you just this small part of Sarah’s story and I hope I have done it justice.

Author: Abbey Anson, CTRT Social Media Volunteer Coordinator