Rallying in support of breast cancer cause
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
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.