A group of more than 30 Queensland running buddies are on a mission to help raise money for people diagnosed with breast cancer – including their own teammate Sarah.
Sarah, from Newstead, was diagnosed with stage three HER2 Positive and hormone positive breast cancer in November 2020 after ignoring a lump in her breast for about six months.
The Australian Football League employee said she was distracted with work during a COVID-19 disrupted season and delayed seeing a GP.
“By the time I had my scans the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes and it was a very scary time,” Sarah said.
The social running club crew from Club KT, based at Newstead, are raising funds for this year’s International Women’s Day Fun Run, presented by National Storage.
The sold-out Brisbane event on 12 March supports women with breast cancer and raises vital funds for breast cancer research and services at Mater hospitals across Queensland.
As part of her treatment, Sarah endured six rounds of chemotherapy, immunotherapy, 28 rounds of radiation, a double mastectomy, followed by two rounds of reconstructive surgery and is now determined to share her story and encourage women to “check your boobs regularly.”
“I have no family history of breast cancer, and I got it,” Sarah said.
“Unfortunately, due to the effects of chemotherapy I can’t have children.
“But I am one of the lucky ones. After chemotherapy there has been no evidence of the disease.
“I lost my hair, my body has changed, all the treatment takes a huge physical and mental toll, and the experience has been challenging. After active treatment it doesn’t just stop, there are regular scans and the fear of recurrence, but I am so grateful for the team at Mater who make those daunting times so much easier to deal with.”
The fitness enthusiast said it was her love of running that had helped her cope after recovering from multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
After returning to Brisbane from New South Wales last year, Sarah joined Club KT and has met many new friends through the running group, led by personal trainer Katie.
“Before I was diagnosed, I was running 10km to 15km a day and took my fitness for granted. Being part of a tight-knit supportive and positive community has been so important to get through those difficult times and I am so grateful to be healthy enough to be running,” she said.
Manly West’s Praena met Sarah through the running group and said it was amazing to know someone personally who had “come out the other end”.
The 33-year-old Brisbane chiropractor said doing the fun run with Sarah was something she would remember for the rest of her life.
“If we can raise money and help change the day for others battling breast cancer, I think that is nice,” Praena said.
Mater Private Hospital Brisbane Breast Cancer Nurse Ash Mondolo said “breast cancer can happen to anyone”.
“Sarah has tolerated her treatment really well because she is so positive and healthy – she incorporated exercise through her treatment,” Ms Mondolo said.
“Sarah now has a few more years of hormone blocking medication which has come with challenges, but she’s taken it in her stride and continues to make exercise a priority.”
Across Queensland more than 3200 have already signed up to take part in the virtual International Women’s Day Fun Run event, with teams running in Townsville, Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Mackay, the Gold Coast, Toowoomba and the Redlands.
Mater Foundation Chief Executive Officer Andrew Thomas said the fun run had been a much-loved event for more than 30 years and had been expanded to allow Queenslanders to participate wherever they live in the state.
“We’re delighted that 20,000 Queenslanders will be joining the sea of pink in Brisbane this year and another 3200 will be running in their own virtual events,” Mr Thomas said.
“This year we’re hoping to raise more than $1.75m to provide personalised support services and state-of-the-art equipment to better diagnose and treat patients, as well as investing in life-saving breast cancer research at Mater.”