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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.

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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 was published by Pitch Publishing at the beginning of this year. 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.

Diagnosis
Not what I had planned | Another kind of marathon | Amsterdam | A poem for this year

Chemotherapy
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

Surgery and recovery
Onto the next stage | One week on | Time on my hands | What do you do to play? | Practicing | T2 | Like the Wind magazine | Beloved | How to help |

Radiotherapy
Coming to an end | My running year – 2015 | 50 while I’m 50 | Weary but done

Getting myself back
Getting myself back | Living hopefully | Keeping watch

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 am Interim COO for the charity Redthread.

Follow me on Twitter: @runningjenbaker

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  1. Pingback: Ealing Half Marathon Pacer & Marshal Releases Book about Running with Cancer | UK Run Chat

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