Runner's World (UK) - - LONDON CALLING - @juderunsvlm2017 justgiv­­m_id=26

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!’

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