PAM Clarke believes cancer research has given her the chance of life so she was happy to launch this year’s Relay for Life.
The fourth annual 24 hour walking relay will be on June 23 and 24 at Ickworth Park and the organisers hope it will be bigger than ever. Previous relays raised about £100,000 for Cancer Research UK.
This year’s team registration was kicked off team members from previous years and supporters packing a room Bury St Edmunds’ Hunter Club had donated for Tuesday evening. They heard Pam, from Blo’Norton, tell how cancer research has given her the chance of beating the rare abdominal cancer pseudomyxoma peritonei, which affects only one in 950,000.
The cancer infects the abdominal wall and all the organs inside. She said that five years ago they would have taken out as much as possible, knowing it would return.
Four years ago she was taken to Basingstoke and North Hampshire NHS Hospital which has a unit dealing with this cancer, where they cleaned up her abdomen then filled her with a ‘chemo wash’ which was drained and refilled for 24 hours, then she could not eat for three weeks. It will be another six years before she knows whether she is free of cancer.
She told the meeting: “This has been the benefit of research and for that I’m eternally grateful. The money you give does make an enormous amount of difference.”
Surprisingly, she even found a positive side to her experience. “The woman in hospital with me wasn’t so lucky and that made me look at my life again,” she said. “I lay in bed thinking what I wanted to do most and that was to teach, which I never had the nerve to do. I’m now training as a primary school teacher.
“Someone said to me that sometimes life throws us a lap full of lemons and you can either take a lemon and suck it and become sour or you can make lemonade. You people are the aid to other people.”
The first two Relays for Life were held at British Sugar’s sports ground, but last year it moved to Ickworth. Organising chairman Lorraine Cockerton said: “Now we have much more room we want to make it bigger than ever.
“It is a walking event and its open to men, where Race for Life is for women. Teams can register at our website.”
Lorraine got involved because after her aunt Jean Assim died, her family were found to have a gene that made them vulnerable to ovarian cancer.
If you cannot get a team together, the relay can put you in touch with existing teams.
For entry details visit www.cancerresearchuk.org/relay or call 08716 412602.