As the warm-up person at Chipping Norton's annual Race for Life, Sharon Canning helps 2,000 women gear up for a challenge - but she has faced tough challenges of her own.

The race next month is to raise money for the fight against cancer - a fight which holds a personal edge for Mrs Canning, 48, from Bicester.

She said: "I've been the warm-up person at the Heythrop Park Race for Life more or less since it started.

"Like most of the warm-up people I'm a Rosemary Conley teacher but I also suffered cancer, so the Race for Life is especially important to me."

Mrs Canning was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 1993.

She said: "I had a very large tumour. There was no chemotherapy suitable for me at the time so after having the tumour removed I had follow-up appointments reg- ularly until they discharged me from the clinic.

"When I was contacted by the Chipping Norton race organisers and asked to do the warm-up I felt honoured, although it was a scary honour.

"I basically lead a 10-minute aerobic warm-up routine and stretches for the 2,000 women who take part and it's great fun."

Mrs Canning was asked to lead the warm-up because of her work as a diet and fitness teacher. She said: "I became involved with it after my treatment. I left hospital very skinny and one year later I wasn't so skinny. So I joined a class and a couple of months later the teacher asked me if I would like to teach classes.

"I'm not naturally that confident but being ill concentrates the mind, so I had a go, passed my exams and started part-time work as a Rosemary Conley teacher."

Mrs Canning went on to buy her own franchise and her work has brought her into contact with other cancer sufferers and survivors.

She said: " I have three current members who are undergoing treatment for cancer.

"My dad also died of cancer in 2002 - but I'm proud to say he managed to see me complete my first Race for Life and receive my medal for doing it."

After the warm-up Mrs Canning will join the competitors for the 5k Race for Life.

She said: "I wouldn't miss it. It's a very emotional and inspiring day."

Race for Life is the UK's largest women-only fundraising event, where women of all ages come together and walk, jog, or run 5k to raise money to help Cancer Research UK beat cancer.

About 9,500 Oxfordshire women will be taking part in Race for Life this summer, aiming to raise £620,000 in sponsorship.

This year there will be three Race for Life events in Oxford, taking place at the University Parks on Saturday, June 7, at 11am and 2.30pm, plus a further event on Sunday, June 8, at 11am.

The Heythrop Park event takes place on Sunday, June 22, at 11am.

To enter Race for Life 2008 visit or call 0871 641 2273.

Cancer Research UK would like also to hear from anyone able to help out with marshalling and handing out water and goody bags. Male and female helpers are welcome. Call 08705 134314.