Ironman athlete tells her iron-willed story
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.