“It hasn’t been easy, but I am determined to use my experience in a positive way” | Alice’s Story

“If our existing medical knowledge about cancer had been available in 1991, my mother may still be alive today”. These are the thought-provoking words of Alice Washbourne who is by no means a stranger to the cruelty of cancer.

Despite the devastation that cancer has caused during her lifetime, Alice’s story is an inspiring one which provides hope for people adapting to a new way of life after their cancer treatment. As a result of surgery for bowel cancer Alice has a permanent stoma which she must carefully manage so that she is still able to run.

Read Alice’s full story below and find out how you can support the journey to her first ever Cancer Research UK London Winter Run.

Cancer has affected my life significantly. Both of my parents died from cancer – my mum at the age of just 53 and my dad at 67. My brothers, Simon, and Neil, have both had bowel cancer –Neil when he was only 38 (thankfully they are now in remission). I had endometrial cancer in 2017 which resulted in surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Having all my hair fall out was especially distressing. In 2019 I got bowel cancer and had a radical surgery to remove it, leaving me with a permanent stoma. Around the same time, I was diagnosed with Lynch Syndrome, which is caused by an inherited faulty gene, giving me a higher risk of developing certain cancers.

If you think that my experience with cancer sounds overwhelming and terrifying, you wouldn’t be wrong. However, I do believe that it is thanks to the pioneering work of Cancer Research UK (as well as the wonderful NHS medical professionals), that I am alive today. I am grateful beyond words for the treatment and support I received and donate monthly to the charity so that more people can survive this terrible disease.

I also believe that had our existing medical knowledge about cancer had been available in 1991, my mother may still be alive. Therefore, I urge those with the means to donate and support the future life-saving treatments which need our funding. Such medical advances could be used to treat people who have cancer now or in the future. We now know that nearly 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetimes* – a statistic that never becomes less shocking.

Running the Cancer Research UK London Winter Run 2024 will be a significant step in my journey in living with the effects of cancer. Anyone who has had cancer treatment will know the challenge of just being able to recover and get back on their feet, let alone do exercise.

My return to exercise has not been easy; adhesions caused by surgery have resulted in frequent bowel obstructions (and visits to A&E) and I also had a gut infection on a recent trip to Georgia in September. I wear a support belt when exercising to prevent me from getting a hernia, as my abdominal muscles have been weakened by two surgeries on the same site.

Despite these setbacks and challenges, I am looking forward to running the event as a signal of my return to health. I’ve heard a lot about the camaraderie, team spirit and joyful atmosphere at the event, as well as the winter characters (and opportunity to hug a polar bear!)

Thank you to my fantastic trainers, Darren Grey and Mary Brooking, and everyone else who is supporting me on my journey to the start line. Being able to use my experience in a positive way to raise money and awareness for Cancer Research UK is a very important part of my gratitude for my wellness, and I hope that in sharing my story, I am able to make a difference.

Thank you Alice for your inspiring story about resilience in the face of cancer; we wish you all the best of luck at the event in February.