JO JO Leatham discovered she had breast cancer when she was at her lowest ebb. But now cancer free, she and her sister Katharine Cookson are striding out to prove they are back ‘in the pink’.
Ms Leatham, 49, and Mrs Cookson, 46, from Great Barrington, near Burford, are taking part in the Breast Cancer Care Pink Ribbonwalk at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, on Saturday, May 19.
Ms Leatham said: “It is nine years since I was told I had breast cancer and there isn’t a day goes by that I don’t wake up thinking about it and go to bed thinking about it. But I am a survivor and, at my daughter Charlotte’s request, I am going to prove that by taking part in the Ribbonwalk and hopefully raising a good amount of money for a great charity.”
Ms Leatham had just got divorced and was renovating a new house when she got the worst news of her life. She said: “I had put my aches and pains down to decorating, but one night I felt my left boob and it felt decidedly lumpy.
“When my nephew visited a few days later and said he was going to get a mole on his back checked out I agreed to go and get my boob checked out too. But I never dreamed I would have cancer.”
Ms Leatham learned she had a large cancerous lump and needed the whole breast removed.
Dazed, she eventually plucked up the courage to tell her sister.
“From that point on she was my rock – my babysitter, shopper, emotional support, even the person who rubbed cream in my back when I was sore,” said Ms Leatham.
“I lost my hair and wore a wig, but the hair grew back and a few years later I got the all-clear.
“However there were friends along the way who didn’t get the all-clear and some have died. So now I take every day as a blessing.”
The annual Pink Ribbonwalk sees walkers tackle either a 10- or 20-mile route through the picturesque Blenheim Palace grounds.
* Registration for the Pink Ribbonwalk costs £30 with a fundraising target of £175.
For more information, go to breastcancercare.org.uk or call 0870 145 0101