Running has been many things to me – a space to achieve new things, a way to keep fit and stay healthy, a source of friendship and community and, in the running I’ve done in Palestine, a way to demonstrate solidarity with people whose freedom is restricted.
So when I thought about how to celebrate my 50th birthday, I naturally planned lots of running – marathons in Palestine and London and a 50k race in the autumn. Instead I was diagnosed with breast cancer and those plans evaporated to be replaced with chemotherapy, surgery, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
But through all that treatment, I kept running. I ran to all my chemotherapy sessions, seven miles along the river from Kew Bridge to Hammersmith. I did my 50th parkrun and a half-marathon six weeks after finishing radiotherapy. Running was a way to hold onto my sense of identity when I felt I was losing everything, and helped me get myself back once all the treatment was over. I blogged my way through the whole experience and I’ve written a book about it, Run for Your Life, which will be published by Pitch Publishing in January 2017. I hope it will be helpful for other women facing the same thing, whether they are runners or not, and for the friends and family who love and support them. And I hope that runners of all shapes and speeds will resonate with the story of how I got into running and what keeps me going.
Here are links to my blog posts about cancer to make it easier to find them. It’s not a blow-by-blow account of exactly what happened when, more how I felt and what I was thinking as I went through it all.
Coming up for air | Losing my hair | Welcome to the club | Rediscovering writing | Run for your life | Guardian running blog | Not fighting but training | Running with… | Senza mozzarella | Essential kit | One more mile | On sorrow and self-pity | In praise of parkrun | Lizzy Hawker: Runner | Five down, one to go | Building a den | Last lap | Becoming a grandma | A time to be and to endure
I blog about a range of things from running to gender equality, via justice and cycling. I live in London. I am married to Jonny and we have two wildly creative adult sons. I am proud to be an Ealing Eagle, and I have a LIRF qualification. I share an allotment, love cycling too, I’m part of the worship community Grace, and chair of Amos Trust. I have masters in gender studies and voluntary sector management, have written other books and I work in the charity sector.
Follow me on Twitter: @runningjenbaker