Running Through Radiotherapy Treatment

Caroline McCourt

Somebody said to me ‘why don’t you just relax and take some time out?’ I pondered on that statement whilst out running one of my regular run routes around the streets of Farsley! This is my relax time I thought, this is my time out!! And thank goodness I had running as a focus as it’s certainly been a challenging and busy year.


At the beginning of the year I’d decided that 2015 was the year to do a half marathon, the Leeds half marathon was to be my focus and I would raise funds for Cancer Research in memory of my Mum who sadly lost her battle to cancer 10 years ago. I’d done the Great North run when I was 21 (just a few years ago… haha… 23 years ago in fact!). I put a plan in place, spoke to a couple of running buddies who came on board with me and before I knew it we were out running our first session. 


January was a good month and we were steadily clocking up the miles. In early February I went for a routine Mammogram screening, something I’d been doing every year after the loss of my Mum. It was just like any other time I went only this time it seemed to take longer, having more images taken than normal – to be honest I just took it all in my stride and when I was told that I would need to return for further tests the following week my question was;


I’ll still be able to go running, wont I?


They told me that there was a dark shadow at the back of my breast and fluid would need to be drained so that the Doctors could advise me further as to what the problem was. This test meant no running for the week after, I was gutted! I think the staff must of thought I was a mad woman, noticing my head hung low and presuming that an indication that I was worried about what was happening to me – all I could think was this is going to mess up my training plan!! A couple of weeks later after the test the results revealed I had ‘DCIS’ (Ductal Carcinoma in Situ) this is the earliest signs of breast cancer, not the best news but treatable and surgery was planned almost immediately.


The worst news was to come, no running for 3 weeks after surgery! How was I going to adjust my training plan? I knew I would work something out. Of course my running buddies were concerned about the whole ordeal, in fact all those around me, family, friends and work colleagues were shocked. It was nice that people were there for me to offer their support, but I was fine.


Part of the post-surgery treatment required me to undertake daily sessions of radiotherapy; I spent most of April and May doing daily trips to the hospital. It was tough going as the radiotherapy treatment can make you feel tired and I had a half marathon to run mid-April! The radiotherapy was just interference in my life as it was one more thing I had to do and pack into my already busy schedule!! But of course it was a necessity to give me the best possible outcome after my surgery, so I just continued as normal and did what I always do – just get on with things!


By now my training plans had taken a nose dive, though I was still out there running at a slower pace than I was used to. Regular runs each week with the Farsley Flyers helped to keep me motivated, after all I needed to turn up as I was one of the run leaders – I needed to be there to motivate and encourage people to achieve their goals and discover all the positive affects running reaped. 


You’re probably wondering did I do the half marathon – silly question, of course I did! It was bang in the middle of my radiotherapy treatment, I knew I had to do the run; I just needed to shift my focus as to why I was doing it. It certainly was not going to be the fastest time I’d ever recorded but that didn’t matter as I was out there running and showing people that anything is possible, no matter what is going on in your life!! Even the hospital staff agreed that my positive mental attitude and my motivation to continue to stay fit and healthy helped speed up my recovery.


I remain fit and healthy and am cancer free and continue to take time out on relaxing runs!




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