A mum who put her cancer treatment on hold to protect her unborn son will be on the start line for Leicester Race for Life – accompanied by her seven-month-old baby.
Breast cancer patient Rachel Kitching, 39, of Birstall, is urging other women to rise to the challenge and help beat cancer by signing up to Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life.
She came straight from a radiotherapy session this week to pose for the cameras at a photoshoot, proudly holding a placard with the rallying cry, “If we can do it, you can too!” in a bid to inspire other ladies to join her and baby Noah at the event at Victoria Park on Sunday, July 9.
She hopes local ladies of all shapes and sizes will follow their lead and sign up. The Leicestershire Race for Life events kick off on Sunday, May 14, with Pretty Muddy at Prestwold Hall, Loughborough.
Rachel, who works as operations director for a financial planning firm in Leicester, was diagnosed with breast cancer in August last year when 33 weeks pregnant.
Read More: Updates: Body found in Leicester city centre
When she got the shock news that the lump in her breast was a tumour – not a blocked milk duct – Rachel made the decision to delay her cancer treatment in order to protect her unborn baby.
Baby Noah was induced at 37 weeks and Rachel had to have surgery five days after the birth. To add to the trauma, Noah developed sepsis and was rushed back into hospital when he was only four weeks old.
Rachel said: “It was a nighmare to be quite honest. Your emotions are all over the place when you’ve just had a baby anyway, and instead of being able to breastfeed my baby I had to get on with my cancer treatment. It was pretty awful.
“Then not long after we’d got Noah home he became very unsettled with an unusual cry. The GP couldn’t find anything wrong apart from a high temperature but he was sent to hospital for tests to be on the safe side.
“Thank God for that, because it turned out to be streptococcal sepsis – a life threatening condition. So I spent a further two weeks in hospital while Noah had IV antibiotics.”
Thankfully, Noah recovered with no lasting problems. And Rachel herself is now coming to the end of her cancer treatment. She received chemotherapy after her surgery, and is now part way through a course of radiotherapy.
And, against all the odds, Rachel and her husband Nathan have the chance of a brother or sister for Noah thanks to successful fertility treatment. Rachel’s egg production was hampered by a benign cyst on her ovary, but the couple were lucky enough to get a viable embryo from her one and only egg before she began chemotherapy.
Rachel added: “I consider myself extremely lucky. Although it was terrible to be diagnosed with cancer while expecting, it was so close to the end of my pregnancy that I could carry the baby almost to term without delaying my treatment for too long.
“My experience means I understand all too clearly why Cancer Research UK’s work is so important. I believe it’s thanks to research that I’m standing here today.
“It means so much to me to be doing Race for Life with Noah after everything we’ve both been through. If we can do it, anyone can do it. You don’t have to break any running records and every penny raised makes such a difference. That’s why I hope our story inspires other women to join us.”
Runners can take part in 5km or 10km runs, or if they fancy something a bit dirtier, then there’s the Pretty Muddy course at Prestwold Hall.
Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Leicestershire, said: “By taking part in Race for Life, women in Leicestershire can help raise funds for crucial research and make a real difference in the fight against cancer.
“Participants can choose to walk, jog or run around the course. Whether they’re planning a 5k amble with friends, a 10k sprint or a mud-splattered dash around the Pretty Muddy obstacle course, it’s not about being first over the finish line – it’s the taking part that counts.
“Every step participants take together will help to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. Money raised – whether it’s £20 or £200 – will help Cancer Research UK scientists find new ways to treat cancer and save more lives.”
To enter Race for Life visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.