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Cancer survivor and social housing worker takes on marathon challenge

A cancer survivor and social housing worker is now taking on a marathon challenge in aid of the charity that supported her.
Cancer survivor and social housing worker takes on marathon challenge

A cancer survivor and social housing worker who took up running during her treatment is now taking on a marathon challenge in aid of the charity that supported her through her own cancer journey.

Laura Derbyshire, from Salford, is running the Manchester Half Marathon on October 9, despite only taking up running while undergoing radiotherapy.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Laura is keen to share her story to encourage others to look out for the signs of breast cancer.

Laura, aged 41, who works as an estate management officer with Salford housing association Salix Homes, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in July 2020 after finding a lump – during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It was the middle of the pandemic, and I hadn’t told any of my friends or family I had found a lump, as it was a time when everyone was self-isolating and social distancing.

“I broke the news to my family while stood socially distanced at the end of their driveway. Dealing with a cancer diagnosis and treatment is tough anyway, but to do it virtually alone without being able to have my family and friends physically at my side for support was even harder.”

Laura Derbyshire

Mum-of-one Laura, who has worked at Salix Homes for nine years, lives in Salford with her now 18-year-old daughter Jess, who was sitting her GCSEs at the time of her mum’s diagnosis. 

Within 25 days of being diagnosed, she began her first intense round of chemotherapy treatment.

“I was lucky enough to border two hospitals and I got to witness first-hand the care and support from both the Royal Bolton Hospital and The Christie.

“Towards the end of my chemo, The Christie had restarted its ‘chemo-at-home’ service, which is a mobile van I’d visit every week at the AJ Bell Stadium in Salford – I call it my ‘car park chemo’.”

Laura Derbyshire

In December 2020, Laura underwent surgery known as a lumpectomy to remove the lump and the surrounding lymph nodes, as the cancer had already started spreading to her lymph nodes.

And it was while undergoing radiotherapy after her operation that Laura decided to take up running, which she credits for saving her life.

“I wasn’t a runner at all, but I had spent so long inside the house, I craved being outside. Running was free and didn’t require a fancy gym membership, and I could do it round my estate. I started off by walking, and then I joined a local Couch to 5k group, and the rest is history.

“In a way I was probably running away from cancer, but it was running and the NHS that saved my life.”

Laura Derbyshire

Laura is now in remission from cancer, but still struggles with the long-term physical effects. She undergoes regular physio at Salford Royal Hospital, which has inspired her to raise money to enable the hospital to purchase another DOT (deep oscillation therapy) machine, which is used to break down scar tissue.

“The lasting physical damage is tough, but my physio Karen is an angel. She uses a machine on my scar tissue called a DOT machine, which isn’t NHS-funded. DOT therapy is also not available in every borough, so I’m very lucky that Salford has one.

“The DOT treatment works wonders on my scars and enables my body to find new ways to drain its lymphatic fluid, as I no longer have the nodes that did that before.

“I am running the Manchester Half Marathon to raise as much as I can to help fund another DOT machine for the team at Salford Royal so they can help change more lives. The DOT machine not only helps people who have had cancer treatment, but it works on any scar, for men and women, and I really believe this treatment should be available to everyone, no matter where you live.

“October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so I want to encourage people to regularly check their breasts and get to know your own bodies. If you do feel that something is wrong or looks or feels different, then please see your doctor.”

Laura Derbyshire

Laura has already completed the Manchester 10k, but this will be her first half marathon. She is running alongside her sister Helen Derbyshire and the pair are aiming to raise £3,225 for the NorthCare Charity, which will purchase the DOT machine for Salford Royal.

You can sponsor Laura via her Just Giving Page Laura-Jayne Derbyshire is fundraising for Northcare Charity (justgiving.com)

For more information about how to check for the signs of breast cancer, visit, CoppaFeel! | Check Your Boobs or Pecs | Breast Cancer Awareness

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