Marathon mum to thank staff at Guy's Cancer

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Janet Kelly

A mother-of-two is saying yes to life, by running her first marathon following a secondary breast cancer diagnosis.  

Janet Kelly, 58, from Beckenham in south east London, is taking on the London Marathon on Sunday 3 October to raise money for Guy’s and St Thomas’ and thank staff for the care she has received. 

Janet was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 while living in Hong Kong. After being treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, she was cancer free for 13 years.

But in May 2016 she got the news she was hoping to never receive again. Janet said: “I went for my annual mammogram and it was then I was told that I had secondary stage four breast cancer and it had spread to my bones.” 

Secondary breast cancer occurs when breast cancer cells spread from the breast through the lymphatic or blood system to other parts of the body. Secondary breast cancer can be treated, but it can't be cured.

Janet said: “When I first got the news, I thought I was going to be dead by the end of the year. After going through this once before, I started thinking the worst.”

Janet was initially prescribed a hormone drug from her local hospital and underwent a treatment of targeted radiotherapy at Guy’s Hospital.

Following the radiotherapy, there was no evidence of cancer in her body, however due to the nature of secondary cancer, Janet knows it could return at some point. 

In December 2017, Janet came under the care of the Cancer Centre at Guy’s and was prescribed a new drug that had just been approved for breast cancer patients. 

She said: “The combination of the radiotherapy I had, along with the drugs that I am still on, has meant my cancer hasn’t returned as yet. Though I know the cancer will progress, I’ve decided I need to make the most of the time I have now.”

Janet’s condition and treatment is regularly monitored with appointments at the Cancer Centre at Guy’s. 

She said: “At one point I was having appointments every few weeks and the care I’ve received has been so fantastic. I now come in every three months and I am absolutely in awe of the place and their staff. From the minute you walk through the door to the moment you leave, everyone is so kind.

“I’ve been lucky. During the pandemic my appointments and scans continued and health-wise, I’m doing really well. My condition hasn’t changed and it’s now been five years since I was first diagnosed with stage four cancer.”

Janet was planning to do the London Marathon in 2020 before it was cancelled due to the pandemic. She is taking it on this October to show her appreciation to all of the staff who have cared for her since coming under the care of Guy’s Cancer.

She said: “I’m not a runner by any stretch of the imagination, but after I saw on Facebook that you can run the marathon and raise money for Guy’s Cancer, I thought ‘Go on then, I can have a go at that’.

“I’ve had a few moments where I’ve been a bit down on myself and doubted whether or not I can do this, but I give myself a good talking to. I watch it every year on the TV and I know if I don’t end up doing it, I’ll regret it.” 

Janet will be cheered on by Derek, her husband of more than 30 years, as well as their children Jack, 29, and Rosie, 27. 

She said: “Though it’s been tough, I’d say that the diagnosis has changed my perspective on life. I probably would have never run a marathon if the cancer hadn’t come back.”

Professor Elinor Sawyer, consultant in clinical oncology, said: “When Janet first told me she was running the marathon I was very impressed. She even inspired me to start running. 

“Advances in cancer treatments, such as targeted radiotherapy and new drugs have transformed outcomes for women like Janet, not only because they are effective but also have few side effects. 

“Janet is a fantastic example of someone who has dealt with her diagnosis and treatment tremendously well. I wish her the best of luck and thank her for raising money for Guy’s Cancer.” 

To donate visit Janet’s page on Virgin Money Giving

Last updated: March 2022

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