A CANCER survivor has told how running is helping her get back to her “old self” as she gears up to pound the streets of the Capital for a good cause.
Karen Gray, from Tranent in East Lothian, had her world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015 after a routine mammogram.
The cancer had grown underneath her breast and was completely hidden from view, meaning that it had increased to a size of over 4cm.
A year of gruelling treatment followed, with 55-year-old Karen undergoing chemotherapy every three weeks, followed by a lumpectomy operation and radiotherapy.
After being given the all-clear in April 2016, Karen decided to focus on her health and fitness and has been building her confidence as a runner ever since.
Things have gone so well that Karen has signed up to take part in the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run, due to take place in the Capital on January 13.
She will join more than 3000 runners at the event and hopes to raise as much cash as possible for the charities Breast Cancer Now and Maggie’s Edinburgh, both of which supported her through her own treatment.
Recalling her diagnosis, Karen said it had come as a “huge shock” to both herself and husband Collin.
She said: “Because I am over 50, I attend mammogram appointments every two years and so in 2015 I went to the clinic and returned home, never thinking that my life would change so drastically.
“Even when I received a letter asking me to return, I never expected to be given the news that I had cancer.
“We could not believe it and we were so nervous about what the future would hold. We had gone through the effects of cancer as my mum and brother both passed away from it and it left us feeling very anxious.”
Several of Karen’s friends took on running challenges to fundraise as she underwent treatment and it was one of these who persuaded her to don some trainers herself.
“I decided to give it a go as I wanted to focus on my health following what I had gone through and since then I haven’t looked back,” she said.
The 5k Winter Run route which Karen will run includes a scenic tour of Holyrood Park, with runners crossing the finish line near Holyrood Palace.
Karen said she wanted to take on the challenge to give her a goal to work towards in training and that she hoped to beat her 5k record.
She added: “I never imagined how different my life would be after going through breast cancer. By taking up running, I feel more determined to get through things and reach my personal goals.
“I run for myself but also for others who have gone through the same illness as me.
“When I was poorly, I put on weight and slowly but surely, running is helping me get back to my old self.”
For more information, visit greatrun.org/winter.