A GRATEFUL cancer survivor who put the lump in her breast down to ‘too much Bollywood shimmying’ is set to take part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life and carry on the fight against the disease.
Mum Karen Crane, 55, a teaching assistant at Brownsover Community School, had joined a Bollywood dancing class with her colleagues to keep fit and have a laugh.
She said: “We were all there in Lycra, looking a bit overweight and a bit silly, jiggling around trying to do the Bollywood moves. Next day in school we were all going round clutching our boobs because of all the shimmying.
“So when a lump popped up in my breast on Christmas Eve 2019, I thought it was a pulled muscle or something from all the shimmying I’d been doing.”
Karen put it to the back of her mind over the festive season, but when she returned to school the following January a colleague persuaded her to go to the GP.
“I was sure it was the shimmying and I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s time with it, but my friend absolutely insisted I go and get it checked out. I’m so glad she did, as luckily my cancer was caught early enough to be treatable: I think she may have saved my life,” said Karen.
Now friends and colleagues from the school have rallied round to join Karen and her daughter Sophie, 20, in raising vital funds for life-saving research by signing up for Coventry Race for Life, which takes place at Warwick University on Saturday October 9.
For Karen, it will be an emotional moment as she stands on the Race for Life start line with the posse of pals who have been by her side every step of the way during her ordeal.
Karen said: “Even when they told me it was cancer I thought it would be fairly straightforward as at first it seemed I would only need a lumpectomy and radiotherapy. It was only when scans revealed more lumps that it started to look more serious – I had to have a mastectomy, chemotherapy and then radiotherapy.”
With husband Darrell working away during the week, Karen had lined up her faithful friends as ‘chemo buddies’ to help her through treatment. But the pandemic hit and all Karen’s plans were thrown into disarray.
“It did mean going through much of my treatment alone, but my friends found ways to stay in touch so I didn’t feel lonely. Lockdown meant my son, Henry, and daughter Sophie, were both home and Darrell couldn’t work, so all four of us were at home together. I didn’t feel isolated at all.
“The hardest part of all this was telling my family I had cancer. It’s not something you want to inflict on the people you love. Because of the pandemic I have had to do without a wig and without reconstruction surgery, as these were considered ‘non essentials’, so it has been tough at times.
“Joining Race for Life this autumn feels like a really positive thing to do. I know exactly how vital it is to keep raising funds for life-saving research and I just want to do our bit to raise money and make a difference to the lives of people with cancer.”
Karen’s story has inspired her friends and colleagues to join Race for Life with her, and she hopes it will inspire others further afield.
She added: “In some ways I held it together so well, not even crying much and making jokes all the time. It was only when I got the ‘all clear’ that it really hit me just what I’d been through. I’m so grateful for the treatment that helped save my life. It’s thanks to research that I’m still here.”
Many Race for Life events are returning this autumn with socially-distanced measures in place to keep participants safe. Participants will race either alone or in small, socially distanced groups, and hand sanitiser will be provided.
Visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770 to enter, or for more information.