For most people running is a good way to keep fit and healthy but for Jenny Baker it has become her saviour. Jenny had received the devastating news that she had breast cancer just after she turned 50 years old and was at the peak of running fitness. Rather than let the disease get the better of her, Jenny's instinct was just to keep running, and in doing so she found a secret weapon to come to terms with the diagnosis and build resilience against everything that lay ahead.
Jenny's whole story has been documented in her blog, an honest and thought-provoking account of her cancer journey and what running means to her. Now clear of cancer, she has also released a book about her experience, Run For Your Life, to be published this month. The over-riding sentiment in her thoughtful and inspiring writing is that running has enabled her to hold on to her sense of identity when she felt like she was losing everything. It is a brilliant story of coping that will resonate with other women facing the same thing, runners or non-runners.
October 2016 marked the 1 year anniversary of Jenny's cancer surgery and her annual mammogram reported no evidence of disease. Through exercise, a positive state of mind, healthy eating, treatment and surgery, she had come through the other end and, as her book cover states, 'ran circles around breast cancer'.
JennyÂ BakerÂ had just had her best year ever of running Â– PBs at every distance and a Good for Age entry into the following year's London Marathon. She was planning to run five marathons to celebrate her 50thÂ birthday, only to see all that start to unravel when she found a lump in her breast. She knew that one in eight women will get breast cancer, but it was a huge shock to discover that she was the one.Â Â Feeling betrayed by her body and frightened about the future, her instinct was to keep running as long as she could. In the turmoil of coming to terms with her diagnosis, a golden moment was discovering that her oncologist was a marathon runner too. With his encouragement, she set herself the challenge of running to all her chemotherapy sessions, seven miles along the river to Charing Cross Hospital.Â Â JennyÂ had already discovered the huge benefits available from over 15 years of running Â– mental and physical health, the opportunity to achieve new goals, and a community to belong to. Now running became her secret weapon for coping with her cancer treatment, and getting her life back on track once it was all over.Â Â JennyÂ says;
Run for Your LifeÂ is my inspirational story about how running transformed my experience of breast cancer, helping me to rewrite the story of what was happening to me. In it, you will discover how I became a runner, why running makes you stronger in so many ways and how those runs to chemo became a source of life and hope:Â
Â Â Â Â Â AÂ raw and honest account of how I rose to the challenge of breast cancer and kept running throughout my treatment. Â Â Â Â Â HowÂ my crew of chemo runners gave me strength and courage to run to all my chemotherapy sessions.Â Â Â Â Â Â Includes a compelling exploration of how running becomes part of our identity which will resonate with runners of all standards Â Â Â Â Â Full of insight into how to cope with a cancer diagnosis, and how to offer support and help, relevant to women diagnosed with breast cancer and to their family and friends. Â Â Â Â Â WhyÂ I'm passionate about the importance of exercise for physical and mental health, and for wellbeing.Â Â Â Â Â Why I've run two marathons in Palestine in support of human rights, why the third attempt ended up as a 10k, and how I did the half marathon in Palestine less than three months after finishing cancer treatment. Â Â Â Â WhyÂ I'm choosing to live hopefully and to keep on running.