Iron­man ath­lete tells her iron-willed story

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

Bar­bara Mockford was al­ready deal­ing with rheuma­toid arthri­tis when she was di­ag­nosed with bone and lung can­cer dur­ing train­ing for Iron­man 2006.

Libby O’Brien spoke to the Hamil­ton woman who has writ­ten about her in­spi­ra­tional story and will be at Mata­mata Pa­per Plus to sign copies of her book.

Rheuma­toid arthri­tis did not stop Mockford’s dream of be­com­ing an iron­man, but her dream was shat­tered when she was di­ag­nosed with can­cer.

Mockford was in­spired to do an iron­man af­ter be­ing at the fin­ish line in 2005 and imag­in­ing her­self com­plet­ing the race.

‘‘When I heard Mike Reilly say­ing to all these ath­letes ‘ you are an iron­man’ it just re­ally grabbed me,’’ she said.

Mockford signed up to com­pete in the 2006 Iron­man event and used the Taupo Half Iron­man as a goal to gauge her fit­ness be­fore the big race in March the fol­low­ing year.

The night be­fore the event she dis­cov­ered a lump on her wrist but ig­nored it think­ing it was just a symp­tom of her rheuma­toid arthri­tis that she has suf­fered from for many years.

But dur­ing the swim leg the next morn­ing Mockford felt a burn­ing sen­sa­tion in her wrist and be­came sick and dis­ori­ented.

She failed to fin­ish the race and ended up in hospi­tal the next day.

While in hospi­tal she was given the first of what she calls ‘‘bub­bles of dis­ap­point­ment’’.

‘‘I was told that I had bone can­cer but what was dev­as­tat­ing was know­ing that my iron­man dream was over,’’ she said. ‘‘To not get to the start line of iron­man was as heart-wrench­ing as be­ing told the news about the can­cer.’’

Bat­tling through chemo­ther­apy, Mockford was given the all-clear a few months later but dur­ing a rou­tine lung X-ray was given more bad news.

‘‘They had found can­cer­ous cells in my lungs and I was ba­si­cally given a time-line and told to get my af­fairs in or­der,’’ she said.

Feel­ing that she had noth­ing to lose, Mockford re­sorted to self-heal­ing, us­ing tra­di­tional meth­ods to at­tempt to kick the can­cer.

‘‘I used to shut my eyes and imag­ine grenades blow­ing up each lit­tle can­cer­ous nod­ule in my lungs,’’ she said.

‘‘I’d wear crys­tals; I did any­thing that could help as I had noth­ing to lose.’’

Mirac­u­lously, Mockford was told she was can­cer-free not long af­ter and once the all-clear was given a sec­ond time, she felt she had been given a ticket to free­dom.

‘‘I took life by both hands and made the most of it,’’ she said. ‘‘I com­pleted the Kin­loch triathlon a few weeks ago and came last but I didn’t care, I was out there do­ing it.’’

She has now writ­ten an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy en­ti­tled An Un­shak­able Be­lief to share her story and to give those go­ing through a sim­i­lar or­deal some hope.

‘‘The book started out to be cathar­tic but it soon be­came my way to help oth­ers who might be go­ing through a sim­i­lar time as I did,’’ she said.

Mockford will be at Mata­mata Pa­per Plus on Fri­day, June 1, where she will be avail­able to sign copies be­tween 12 and 12.30pm.

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