Gateshead woman Sarah Doick is determined to lead the battle against cancer.
The 44-year-old was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, just before Christmas 2001. She was 31-years-old at the time.
Sarah, who lives in Carr Hill, said: “I was just about to pop in the shower after spending the day with my young niece and nephew when I spotted something on my back in the mirror. I thought it might be dirt or chocolate from playing with the kids. But when I tried to rub it off, it just wouldn’t budge, so I thought I ought to get it seen to.”
She went to her GP straight away who referred her to the melanoma clinic at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle. A biopsy was taken and when she returned the following week for the results, she was given the devastating news it was cancer.
“In the run up to Christmas I’d seen a GP, a consultant and a number of medical students, all of whom appeared fascinated by my ‘splodge of dirt’,” Sarah added. “But then just a couple of days before Christmas day that ‘splodge’, which turned out to be a deadly, cancerous mole, had to be removed by surgery.
“By the New Year, I had learnt an awful lot about cancer - not just the physical side that affected just me, but also the emotional side that spread beyond me and right through my family, friends and colleagues, all of whom were concerned.”
In the following months, she had further moles removed, some which were also malignant, but some benign. Now she continues to have regular checkups, but is otherwise well.
Following her ordeal, Sarah wants to help other people suffering from cancer and is urging women across the North East to take part in the Cancer Research UK Race for Life. The event helps to raise vital funds for research.
Sarah, who works for commercial law firm Muckle LLP in Newcastle City Centre, entered her first Race for Life in 2002 and has taken part in it every year since, apart from in 2012 when both her mum and one of her best friends were also diagnosed with cancer.
Her mum was doing well and even joined her to take part in the race in 2013. But sadly, last April, she suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away, leaving Sarah devastated.
However, Sarah’s friend received the news that she was cancer clear and now hopes to take part in this year’s event.
Sarah added: “After my cancer diagnosis I realised that without all the hard work that Cancer Research UK and those that fundraise for it had done over the years, there was a very good possibility that I would not be here today.
“Cancer has played a major part in my life over the last 13 years so that’s why I’m committed to helping others by raising money so that Cancer Research UK can help even more people beat the disease. That’s why I’m calling on the brave ladies of the North East to join the pink army and take part in Race for Life.
“I’m flying the flag in the fight against cancer as I’m determined to show this devastating disease who’s boss. By taking part in the race, we can raise money for life-saving research and help more people like me survive.
“I can’t wait to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with an incredible army of women who are united in their aim of beating cancer sooner. Everyone who joins me at Race for Life will know that every step we take will bring Cancer Research UK a step closer to conquering the disease. It’s time to join the fight and show cancer that hell hath no fury like a woman in pink.”
The Race for Life 5k will be held at Saltwell Park on June 7, while Newcastle’s Town Moor and Exhibition Park will host the 5k, 10k and Pretty Muddy races on July 11 and 12.
Nicki Embleton, the charity’s spokesman for the North East, said: “Every day, 40 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North East. That’s why we need women of all ages, shapes and sizes to pull on their leggings, lace up their trainers and come together to help conquer cancer.
“Race for Life events are not competitive. They are not about being fit or fast. It’s about a collective force of feisty, strong and inspirational women leading the battle against cancer. We know that the ladies in the North East are up for the challenge so we urge them to sign up now.
“There are over 200 different types of cancer and we won’t stop until we conquer them all. Thanks to advances in research, more people in the North East are surviving cancer than ever before. But there’s still more work to be done. The fight is on and we’re rallying women across the city to join the charge.”
The charity says that becoming more active has longer-term benefits, as research shows that even regular moderate physical activity can help to reduce the risk of cancer. Not only does it help to maintain a healthy body weight but also has a protective effect in itself.
Anna Thompson, the group’s North East event manager, said: “Whether you’re a running pro or novice, every step you take around the course will help bring us one step closer to the day when all cancers are cured.
“The atmosphere is incredibly supportive and pledging to take part, alongside thousands of like-minded women, is a great motivation.”
Last year, 7,500 women participated in the Newcastle events and raised £395,145.
Cancer Research UK says that more than one in two people will be diagnosed with the disease at some stage in their lives, but the good news is that more people are surviving it now than ever before. Survival rates have doubled since the early 1970s.
Anna added: “With the arrival of lighter evenings, there’s no better time to enjoy the great outdoors, get a bit fitter and limber up for Race for Life. Whether you choose to walk, jog or charge around the course, you’ll be joining an army of women united in the battle against cancer.
“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat this devastating disease. The more research we can fund, the sooner that day will come.”
Free training plans for different levels of ability are available on the Race for Life website. The six-week plans are designed for walkers, joggers or runners. They feature guidance on warming up and stretching, as well as motivation.
To enter, go to www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.