Cancer survivor from Wickham St Paul takes on fitness challenge to raise awareness of disease
A cancer survivor is taking on an ambitious fitness challenge this month, as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of the disease.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, Julie Raz, from Wickham St Paul, underwent a mastectomy and several sessions of chemotherapy.
The 53-year-old, who works as a primary school teacher, was sitting in a staff meeting when she felt a lump under her armpit.
“I kept looking down at a bruise on my arm that had been there for months and wondering why it hadn’t gone,” she said. “The only reason I could think why the bruise wasn’t clearing quickly was because of my lymph nodes.
“So I felt under my left arm and felt a large lump – the size of a walnut.”
Following the diagnosis, Julie was encouraged to walk regularly by her sister, Cathy, in order to boost her energy levels.
“Cathy wanted to make sure I kept active and encouraged me throughout my treatment,” explained Julie. “I’d go to Cathy’s house in Pebmarsh and we’d walk with our dogs.
“Being outside in the fresh air helped clear my mind and I’m convinced that staying active has played an important part in both my physical and mental health.”
The treatment took its toll on Julie’s body.
“There were days when I couldn’t drag myself up to say goodnight to my three boys, Josh, Ben and Isaac – I had to listen to my body,” she said.
“But when I could, I walked a lot and started going to the gym. I overhauled my diet and ate more fruit and veg and bought organic milk.
“I figured that being healthy might tip the scales in my favour – it was my way of getting my life back a bit and taking control.”
Julie has credited her recovery to a healthy lifestyle, which involves taking daily walks combined with swimming, going to the gym and a variety of fitness sessions.
She has acquired a passion for fitness and enjoys keeping healthy.
Hosted by Cancer Research UK, Julie is taking part in the charity’s Walk All Over Cancer campaign this month, to raise funds for research into the disease.
The month-long challenge involves completing 10,000 steps each day.
Julie added: “I’m passionate about staying fit – and that’s something I want to encourage everyone to do.”