June 14, 2008

Cancer Irony of Runner in Heroine Jane’s Footsteps

KIM Robson pounded the streets of Leeds in Jane Tomlinson's Run for All last year and will line up with thousands of others against for the event next week.

She began running to keep fit only two years ago but soon after taking part in a fun run for cancer research, her world was turned upside down when she found a lump in her breast.

Her GP in Ilkley referred her for tests which confirmed she had cancer.

She underwent chemotherapy and then had major surgery on a fast- growing 15-centimetre tumour before enduring further chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Last year she began a course of treatment using the drug Herceptin but by last autumn the specialist treating her at the Yorkshire Clinic in Bingley told her it was beginning to fail.

The cancer was spreading through her body and he warned that without alternative treatment she faced serious problems by Christmas.

He referred her to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary where a trial is underway of the drug lapatinib.

The drug, which yesterday won a provisional European licence, is being tested on patients who have exhausted other treatments including Herceptin. It does not offer a cure but halts progression of the disease to give patients extra months with their families.

There was controversy last year after Jane Tomlinson's husband Mike revealed doctors in Leeds treating his wife, who died in September, had decided against taking part in a trial of the drug and she had been forced to go to Nottingham to receive it. By that stage her condition had deteriorated.

Kim, 44, began treatment in November and noticed immediate improvements.

She said: "Within a week of taking it, I could see it started to have an effect. It was pretty amazing. I feel fine with it. I'll stay on it as long as it works."

Throughout her illness she has stayed as positive as possible.

She has continued running, plays for Ilkley women's rounders team and works every day for two hours at the school which her children Jack, 11, and Ava, seven, attend, as well as helping out at school events - and retaining what friends describe as her wicked sense of humour.

"I've stayed as active as I could - I thought 'You're not going to take over my life completely' - and I've had so much support, I don't want to let other people down," she said.

"I don't like people tip-toeing around me. I want to be treated the same as before."

She will be running with her husband Simon, 43, a shoe firm director, along with several friends, as part of Team Robson. She said she wanted to give something back to cancer research after benefiting from it and will raise cash for Europe's most modern cancer centre at

St James's Hospital in Leeds, which was among the main beneficiaries of Jane Tomlinson's marathon fund-raising efforts.

"I've read both her books and that was really inspirational," said Kim.

She added: "I don't look too far into the future - you just can't.

"This time last year I was at the school leavers' service - you do get to thinking 'Am I going to be here next year?' or 'Is this going to be my last Christmas?'. But you've to tell yourself to stop it - and to get on with things now."

Anyone who would like to contribute towards Team Robson can get further details at www.justgiving.com/yorkshirecancercentre- teamrobson.

IF you are taking part in the Leeds10k, you can send us your fundraising story and photographs for our online coverage. Email us at [email protected]

Messages of support for loved ones and colleagues can be texted or emailed. See www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/runforall for details.

(c) 2008 Yorkshire Post. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.