Friends run to beat can­cer

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By ABBY BROWN

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.

great

Photo: SUP­PLIED

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.

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