TO SHOW WHAT’S STILL POSSIBLE
JUDY LEWIS ‘ I’m running to raise funds for the Charles Wolfson Centre for Reconstructive Surgery at the Royal Free Hospital in London. The centre’s pioneering work with a novel treatment for scarring has been, quite simply, life-changing for me and I’d love to see as many people as possible benefit. The treatment not only reduces scarring, it also softens and improves the look and feel of scar tissue.
Surgery in 2009 to remove a rare cancer in my lower jaw left me with major scarring to my head and neck. I also had to have my fibulas [bones in the lower leg] removed and grafted to a titanium plate to reconstruct my lower jaw. These two major surgeries followed months of aggressive chemotherapy and meant I had to learn to walk, talk and eat again – twice.
Recovery was hard, but the hardest thing was the drastic change to my appearance. Vanity doesn’t come into it – it’s far greater than that. For a while I felt like I’d lost my identity. The scarring on my body can be measured in feet. It took a long time and a lot of support to accept my new face and overcome those powerful emotions. I’m lucky because I did get there and, more importantly, I’ve grown to love and am, in fact, incredibly proud of my scars.
I started running three years ago. After everything I’d been through, I decided that I only had myself to blame if I didn't take charge of my fitness. There are some challenges. Having no fibulas reduces my propulsive power and the effects of the surgery have left me with some nerve damage, making it tricky to run on uneven terrain. The benefits, though, have been incredible. It’s made me re-evaluate the way I feel about my body. My muscles are changing, and my body is getting stronger. I want to set an example for others who are about to go through, or who have had, similar surgery, showing that despite the scarring and surgery, the emotional and physical cost, we can still do incredible things. I believe I may be the first person to run the London Marathon with no fibulas and no prosthetic limbs or other aids. I know it’s going to be a monumental achievement and I hope I don’t crumble emotionally when I see the finish line!’