Marathon for breast cancer
Dawn Cleary was diagnosed with breast cancer just 10 months after her mum died of the illness and knew she had to “get on and get it fixed”.
Now she is doing her bit to help others in the same position by taking part in next month’s Christchurch half marathon to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation.
Mrs Cleary found the tumour herself but at first thought it was something else.
“I could have quite easily overlooked it because I had a pain and felt a thickening – not a lump,” she says.
“I figured it was a muscle strain but thought I had better check it out.
Being diagnosed with cancer so soon after her mother’s death was hard on her family.
“It was probably harder on everybody else than it was for me because I knew I had to get on and get it fixed,” she says.
Mrs Cleary had two operations and eight weeks of radiotherapy in Sydney at the end of 2007.
“What I like to say is: ‘I have been treated for cancer, I will become a survivor’.”
Her experience shows how important early detection is.
“It is the best protection and I think it has to be foremost in people’s minds,” she says.
“If I had left it six months it would have been a completely different story.
“Any lumps, any pains ... you act on them straight away.”
Mrs Cleary found out about the half marathon because she works for Cookie Time – the organisation that sponsors the event.
The company is paying her entry fees.
“It’s hard to get direction and focus back and I actually found by committing myself to this I had both.
“All of a sudden I was motivated to get out there. It’s a good thing, it’s a feel good factor.”
Mrs Cleary has competed in events like the 21km half marathon but not for about 15 years.
She stepped up her training in February and now trains five or six days a week.
Husband Neal will also take part in the event and will run beside her.
Mrs Cleary set out to raise $2000 for the foundation but has received about $3000 in donations.
“I’m absolutely amazed with the support and generosity of people,” she says.
“They have all just blown me away with their generosity.
“It’s amazing there are a lot of good people out there and it’s a great cause of course.
“Anything we can raise for research is all good and they are making great strides with that.”
Email Mrs Cleary at dawncleary@cook ietime.co.nz or call her on 027-235-0835 if you want to support her fundraising efforts.