Friends run to beat cancer
Two former Matamata women met up in Japan earlier this week to complete what is, for one of them, their 1000th run and for the other something that helped her in her fight against cancer.
On June 8 Vanessa Oshima ( nee Mackenzie) and Caroline Steer (nee Bridson) met up to complete Oshima’s 1000th 5km run. The two are now hoping the Matamata community will support this event and help them raise $10,000 for the Cancer Society New Zealand.
Oshima, who is based in Japan, pledged in 2012 to run 5km a day until Steer had beaten her breast cancer. One thousand days, or two and half years, of running every day later, the 45 year olds reunited, along with more than 108 runners to complete the 1000th run.
Steer spoke to the Matamata Chronicle the day before departing for Japan, where Oshima has lived since travelling there as an exchange student in 1987. Steer spoke of the Facebook post that started the epic running. She said Oshima posted on one of Steer’s really low days.
‘‘I really struggled with chemo and I think that was the first day of chemo – it kicked me really hard – and she posted something about going for a run. It was really inspiring and made me want to get out and get going,’’ she said.
Steer Facebooked Oshima saying, ‘‘I saw your running message – at the moment I barely have enough strength to walk to the car in the hospital car park but I’m going to try to make an effort.’’
Oshima said, ‘‘that was it – the few simple words that started so much.’’
She messaged Steer saying ‘‘ok, if me running inspires you to go fight this thing then I will run, I will run every day until you are done’’.
Oshima was also inspired to run because of other cancer stories. Her husband, Yasuhiro Oshima, is also a cancer survivor. She said her Matamata College class of ’ 87 has too many cancer stories to tell, with other classmates fighting or losing their battle with this disease.
Oshima’s running was a nice distraction for Steer.
She had chemo, radiation and a breast reconstruction. She has been on Tamoxifen since July 2013. She will take this for the next five years.
Over the years Oshima has run in the snow, ice, typhoons and at 3am before getting on a plane. She has run with blisters, sore tendons, influenza and hangovers.
Steer said Oshima could achieve anything she put her mind to.
The running has had benefits for Oshima too. Since starting running on September 11, 2012 she lost 11kg in six months and got fit enough to run the Tokyo marathon then New York and finally fast enough to qualify for Boston.
Oshima inspired other runners to join her and they Facebook messaged photos of their runs to Steer. At the 100th run mark they Skyped her so she could enjoy their efforts. A total of 108 people participated in the 1000th run earlier this week.
Oshima had organised an ‘‘incredible itinerary’’ for Steer’s eight-day stay in Tokyo.
‘‘She’s a fantastic friend and a example of what someone can do.’’
The two Matamata College old girls have had a lot of support from their class of ’87. ‘‘ They have been really lovely, these people,’’ Steer said.
She also wanted to remind women to ‘‘check, check, check’’ themselves for breast cancer. After her diagnosis she urged her friends to get mammograms. Some were told by their doctors that they were too young to have to worry about it. Steer told them to go to another doctor. Two of her friends were diagnosed with malignant lumps.
So far the women have raised $5326. Donate at challengeyour self.everydayhero.com/nz/caroline-vanessas-1000-days-of-fight.
Holding the banner are Caroline Steer (nee Bridson) and Vanessa Oshima (nee Mackenzie), who along with 108 runners, completed Oshima’s 1000th run in Japan. Oshima started running to help inspire Steer, who was fighting cancer. The two completed the 1000th run as a fundraiser for the New Zealand Cancer Society.