Brave Wigan mum's marathon mission

Susan finishing first in the Race For Life at Haigh Woodland Park
Susan finishing first in the Race For Life at Haigh Woodland Park

It will be a special moment when Wiganer Susan Barnard crosses the start line of the London marathon.

The 45-year-old had planned to take part in last year’s race, but had to defer after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Related: Running success story for Susan at Race For Life

But after undergoing treatment, she is now clocking up the miles in preparation for the 26.2-mile run on Sunday, April 22.

Susan, who lives in Whelley, said: “I’m not chasing a PB at London, that’s another race for another year hopefully.

“This year it will be a celebration of surviving cancer, being able to put on my trainers and run the London marathon and being thankful that I’m still here.

“Being given a cancer diagnosis really does put life into perspective. Going through it you can never be sure what the outcome will be so to have come through it and still be able to run a marathon is something very special to me.”

Susan is a keen runner, previously completing four marathons and leading runs for Inspiring Healthy Lifestyles.

She secured a “good for age” entry in the London marathon when she finished the Greater Manchester marathon in three hours 42 minutes in 2016.

But she had to defer after finding a lump in her breast after pacing runners in the Wigan 10k in September 2016.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer six weeks later - just four months after her mother Jacqueline Howarth had been told she had the disease.

Susan underwent surgery and spent three weeks at The Christie receiving daily radiotherapy.

She continues to have hormone treatment, regular appointments and physio.

She started running again in March last year and was surprised to win the 5km Race For Life, held at Haigh Woodland Park, in May.

Since then, she has paced runners at the Wigan 10k again and was due to pace at the cancelled Wigan half marathon last month.

She has also completed half marathons in Lancaster and Liverpool and is now focusing on her marathon training.

Susan said: “ I started training for the marathon in January. I have found the training a lot harder compared to the last time I trained for a marathon, before I had breast cancer.

“It’s definitely been more of a challenge on my body, especially my lungs due to the effects of cancer treatment and suffering with fatigue. The long runs have definitely taken me longer to recover from.”

Susan said her children Lillie, 18, and Oliver, 13, were her “inspiration” and will be thinking of them as she runs the marathon.

She is raising money for Cancer Research UK after her experience.

Susan said: “This year’s race is about raising money for a charity that is close to my heart (literally) and thinking of those who have battled with cancer, those who may still be fighting and to honour those who are no longer with us.

“One person that I will be thinking of will be my mum who was also diagnosed with cancer in June 2016. She is doing well and has just recently experienced another cancer scare.”

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