A few months after her 40th birthday in 2016, Jane Reedy was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of oesophageal cancer.
The cancer required equally aggressive treatment which, although successful to date, had life changing consequences for her.
This treatment included chemotherapy, radiotherapy and major surgery in the form of an oesophagectomy at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Gradually Jane, a teacher at Kendal’s Ghyllside School, regained her strength, confidence and courage to tackle the residual side effects of treatment, and living under the ‘umbrella’ of cancer, to undertake a number of physical challenges.
These included the London Marathon in April 2017 in aid of Cancercare and the Frog Graham Round (a swim/run event in the Lake District) along with many adventures with family and friends in Cumbria and on holiday.
During 2017, Jane underwent testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene as she has a family history of ovarian and breast cancer – her mother died 21 years ago after a long battle with ovarian cancer.
She was found to be BRCA1 positive so, to reduce her risk of developing cancer she had further surgery and had her ovaries removed in November 2017 and a double mastectomy in February 2019.
Once again, Jane began rebuilding her body and mind through her love of being outdoors and exercising, something that has always been intrinsic to her life and, although she may never compete at the level she once did it, it was a vital source of happiness and fulfilment for her.
Jane said: “I have a daughter, Tess, who is seven. Through all of this she has given me the reason to get out of bed and keep me smiling. She has a huge amount of empathy for one so young and, at times, our roles have reversed.
“Whilst my amazing husband, Matt, has been there and supported me, calmly and patiently, in every way he can. Tess, of course may have the BRCA1 gene and I want there to be every chance for her in the future to have the best care, screening and support.”
Throughout her process of recovery, Jane visited CancerCare’s Kendal centre for aromatherapy sessions which she found beneficial both before and after surgery for relaxation and healing, improved sleep and general well-being.
She also benefitted from hypnotherapy which aided her mental preparation for surgery and visits to hospital. It also helped her develop good sleep techniques, which she still uses.
This summer, Jane will embark on a new challenge, a special Pedal to the Peaks which will see her cycle from Ben Nevis, to Snowdon and onto Scafell Pike to raise money for CancerCare.
Jane said “I wanted to do a challenge that might inspire others to get out there, return to what they enjoy, set a goal, or have the confidence to start something new. I also want to raise money for charities that are so important to me and develop a greater understanding of cancer. Even if I only inspire one person it is worth it!”
“As a teacher I also know how important these charities are for children and how so many of them are effected by cancer in some way. CancerCare is currently trying to improve their support services for teenagers who are affected by cancer along with support for any bereavement.”