Ral­ly­ing in sup­port of breast cancer cause

The Leader (Tasman) - - GARDENING - SA­MAN­THA GEE

The game of ten­nis was a ‘‘life­line’’ for one Nel­son woman bat­tling breast cancer and she now wants to share it with oth­ers.

Han­nah Straker was di­ag­nosed with stage three breast cancer last Fe­bru­ary. She played ten­nis so­cially, but when she gave up her job as a mid­wife to have cancer treat­ment, she had more time to ded­i­cate to the sport.

Once a week, she would head along to the so­cial club at Nel­son Lawns Ten­nis Club and when she felt up to it, she would go to the brunch club train­ings.

‘‘I came down when­ever I could, I used to take all the phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal drugs I needed to take to get on court, painkillers and ev­ery­thing.’’

Ten­nis re­quired full con­cen­tra­tion and was al­most med­i­ta­tive, Straker said.

‘‘It re­ally gives you a chance to be in your body and be fo­cus­ing on the ball and ev­ery­thing else goes out of your mind. You are not on day five of your chemo, you are on the court hit­ting a ball.’’

De­spite be­ing ill, she found that her ten­nis game im­proved with all the prac­tice.

So much so that ear­lier this month, she won gold in ten­nis at the South Is­land Mas­ters.

‘‘It felt like that was the penul­ti­mate gift of the year, of all my train­ing. I was to­tally chuffed, I have never won a medal be­fore.’’

She said ten­nis had been a hugely im­por­tant part of her re­cov­ery and she wanted to en­cour­age oth­ers to give it a go.

‘‘For me it was about the sense of com­mu­nity through the club.

‘‘Ev­ery­one was so sup­port­ive and kind to me … no-one ever cared how well I played.’’

As part of Breast Cancer Aware­ness Month, Straker is in­volved with the up­com­ing Rally Against Breast Cancer event which is be­ing held at seven ten­nis clubs around the re­gion.

Nel­son Bays Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion re­gional co­or­di­na­tor Ali McQuil­lan said the event was open to any­one and ex­pe­ri­ence of ten­nis was not re­quired

‘‘In­stead of try­ing to teach peo­ple to play ten­nis we thought it would be great just to get them on court to have a car­dio ses­sion.’’

The event will be held at a number of ten­nis clubs across the re­gion; Nel­son, Hope, Rich­mond, Motueka, Waka­puaka, Ma­pua and Golden Bay.

Tick­ets cost $15 per per­son, or $12 per per­son for a group of six or $25 for a mother and child. All pro­ceeds would go to the Breast Cancer Foun­da­tion NZ.

Kelly Bowa­ter Travel - Rally Against Breast Cancer. Sun­day Oc­to­ber 29, 10-11am. For more in­for­ma­tion and de­tails for each event, visit www.ten­nis­nel­son­bays.kiwi

MARTIN DE RUYTER/ THE LEADER

Sally Shaw, left, Nic Kid­son, Nick Ca­ton and Kelly Bowa­ter are sup­port­ing Han­nah Straker, cen­tre as part of the Kelly Bowa­ter Travel Rally Against Breast Cancer ten­nis event at the Nel­son Lawn Ten­nis Club.

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