BRAVE Elayne Braime is running the Virgin Money London Marathon just a year after finishing chemotherapy for breast cancer and while still undergoing treatment for the disease.
Elayne (51), from Lymington, found out she had stage two breast cancer, which had already spread into 10 lymph nodes, the day before her 50th birthday party.
Speaking to the A&T, she joked: “I will probably be the slowest runner there; my aim is to beat the man going around at the end of the marathon picking up the traffic cones!
“But I’m determined to do it. I want to promote that there is life after cancer and I hope to raise awareness of just how vital mammograms are. I’m also raising money for Breast Cancer Care, which has been absolutely wonderful at supporting me.”
Elaine found out she had cancer after it was picked up at a routine mammogram, which she had put off twice because her mother-in-law was very ill.
“I had absolutely no symptoms, and even the day of the mammogram I gave myself a good check and thought ‘Oh I’ll be alright there’s no lumps there.’ We also had no family history of breast cancer.”
In fact, Elayne, a mum-of-three and grandmother of one, had one lump measuring 2.6cm and a second tumour in her left breast.
“I was in complete shock,” she said. “I had told my husband he did not have to come with me when I was called back from the mammogram to the Princess Anne hospital in Southampton as I was so convinced there was nothing wrong.
“It was July 2017 on a Friday and on the Monday it was my 50th birthday. I was having a huge party on the Saturday with 70 guests coming.”
She underwent a lumpectomy in August 2017, followed by reconstruction and removal of the lymph nodes. Six weeks later Elayne started 18 weeks of chemotherapy and then three weeks of radiotherapy. She is still receiving treatment every six months to protect her bones should the cancer return.
Elayne, who works for Scott Bailey Solicitors in Lymington as part of their conveyancing team, said: “It is very difficult treatment but I was determined to remain as normal as I could through it, and being able to go to work when possible really helped that.
“My employers were wonderful, I often didn’t wear my wig to work but they never made me feel awkward. They really helped pull me through.”
Breast Cancer Care were also a lifeline, says Elayne, adding: “They were fantastic at giving me tips, like how to cope with the devastating hair loss and terrible mouth ulcers you get with chemo.
“Little things like that really help. They were always there supporting me, as was the counselling team at Oakhaven Hospice in Lymington. Oakhaven have so many services to help you through treatment, I always look forward to a cup of coffee made by one of their fabulous volunteers.”
Despite not being a natural runner, Elayne decided to apply for a coveted place in the Virgin Money London Marathon on 28th April to give her “something to aim for” and help raise awareness of breast cancer.
She was thrilled to secure a spot but admits she is worried about being slow. “I’m in training but I’m very slow – although I’m improving. I’m up to 10 miles in training runs, only another 16.2 to gain!”
Elayne hopes that her story will bring it home to women just how important attending mammogram appointments are, saying: “It saved my life. I had absolutely no idea I had cancer and if it hadn’t been picked up then, I might well be in a very different place right now. If just one person reads my story and thinks, ‘I haven’t had a mammogram for ages’ and books one, it will make me feel wonderful.”
Elayne is aiming to raise £2,000 for Breast Cancer Care. On Sunday 24th February she is holding an afternoon tea at the Guide hut in Grove Road, New Milton, from 11am to 4.30pm. Tea and cake cost £3.50, or full afternoon tea is available.
There will also be a bottle tombola, plant stall and a raffle at just £1 a ticket, with prizes including a kindly donated meal for two at The Kitchen at Chewton Glen. For tickets, message Elayne on Facebook, or you can donate at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/elayne-braime