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Fiona Ford. Age: 46. Lives: Woore, Staffordshire. Job: Sales director, Lowe & Rhodes Leisure
I’m pictured here on my bike along with my friends who joined me in August for a two-day charity cycle ride. 120 miles from Woore in Staffordshire to Abersoch in North Wales. The money we raised is going to the University Hospital of North Staffordshire’s Breast Care Trust Fund to help start up a ‘Look Good, Feel Better’ workshop at the hospital to include a wig salon facility for women in our area who are going through chemotherapy.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my left breast in July 2009. I was referred to the breast clinic at the UHNS. I had a lumpectomy and all my lymph nodes under my arm removed. At the beginning of that September, I started four months of chemotherapy. I lost all my hair, my eyelashes and eyebrows.
Although I wore headscarves to cover my baldness wearing a wig made me feel ‘normal’ as no one could tell I was ill. I finished chemo at the end of this January and started five weeks of radiotherapy in February. I’m on wonder drug Herceptin, which I have every three weeks for 12 months. Thankfully side-effects have been minimal and my hair is growing back.
My friend Tula Lowe had the charity ride idea and it was a massive challenge for all of us as we are not ‘real’ cyclists.
We had a mishmash of bikes when we started training, but progressed to road bikes or hybrids as we got more confident. Our general experience had been limited to Sunday afternoons on the Manifold Valley Trail, but we built up the mileage and the whole team met up every two weeks for a ride — a great team with a lot of determination and bags of enthusiasm.
The ride went really well, much better than we thought. The worst bit was the weather on the second day. It started with thunder, then torrential rain and such a strong headwind, which made the 10-mile climb out of Bala so much harder. We were absolutely soaked, but this probably made us cycle faster, with less stops, as we wanted to get to Abersoch and get dry!
Fiona’s ride mates included Mandy Berrisford, Tina Cork, Rose Davies, Jo Fenwick, Becky Ford, Suzi Garner, Wendy Hearn, Lesley Hoyle, Kirsty Hoyle, Caroline Lea Jones, Tula Lowe, Suzi Mottershead, Maryanne Parkin-Clare, Mandy Payne, Julie Robertson and Denise Wise.
This article was first published in the October 2010 issue of Cycling Active magazine