Keen walker Claire Cologne wasn’t going to let cancer treatment stand in her way, as Catherine Scott discovers.
It is two years since Claire Cologne rceived the devastating news that she was suffering from breast cancer.
But after surgery and treatment, rather than putting up her feet to recuperate, the mum-of-two decided to take on a challenge of a lifetime.
The 36-year-old from Nether Edge took on a mammoth trek over the Alps in a bid to raise money for Weston Park Cancer Charity for the hospital where she had her treatment.
But although feeling unwell at times, and being admitted as an inpatient on two occasions over Christmas and Easter, Claire was adamant that she would get back to leading an active lifestyle – even if it meant running to and from her treatment sessions.
“I’ve always been an active person and as soon as I started to regain some energy and strength back after treatment I knew I needed something to focus my mind on during recovery,” explains Claire.
“It started with me running to and from my radiotherapy appointments, which seemed crazy at the time, but gradually I became stronger and learnt how to exercise and manage my fatigue at the same time.
“As a keen walker, The Haute Route Glacier trek is a challenge which I have always wanted to complete and it seemed a perfect fit at the time, as I planned to do it a year on from my final radiotherapy session at Weston Park Hospital.
“I wanted something to really test my limits and prove that cancer wasn’t going to get in the way of me living my life to the full.”
“The last two years have been incredibly difficult,” said Claire, “Not only have I had to stay strong for my two kids and husband, but also cope with the change in lifestyle due to the side effects of my treatment.”
Through a Challenge Cancer Through Adventure initiative Claire signed up to complete the seven-day Haute Route Glacier Trek which is a high level trail through the French and Swiss Alps, from Chamonix in the West to Zermatt in the East.
Each day, Claire ascended steep snow, ice and rock to reach high cols and summits, including the Pigne d’Arolla, at 3,796m.
She stayed in basic mountain huts and despite some very early starts of between 4am and 2:30am each day, managed to complete each day without being too tired.
“Climbing the Pigne d’Arolla was very poignant for me as it fell exactly a year from the day of my final radiotherapy session and removal of my chemotherapy tube.
“I couldn’t quite believe that in just a year I’d gone from struggling to climb stairs with a very weak immune system to scaling one of the highest peaks in the Alps!
“It was a once in a lifetime challenge that showed me, and anyone else fighting cancer, that it is definitely possible to get back to leading a pro-active and fulfilling lifestyle after treatment – even though at the time it feels almost impossible!”
Claire, who now attends regular follow-up appointments at Weston Park Hospital, has raised more than £1,000 for the cancer charity and has plans to undertake further fundraising events in the future.
She kept a blog of her challenge which can be viewed at https://canceradventureblog.wordpress.com
Weston Park’s Charity community fundraiser, Jade Hearsum said, “Claire is a real inspiration and has completed such a brave challenge just one year on from treatment.
“We are very proud and thankful to Claire for raising such a fantastic amount for the cancer charity which will help fund innovative research, treatment and care for over 18,000 cancer patients in the region.”
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK with one in eight women and one in 870 men expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
The cancer charity invests in research projects which hope to improve the treatment of breast cancers, not just locally, but worldwide.
In total, the charity has contributed to more than 150 clinical trials in breast cancer including many thousands of patients.
Currently, the charity is investing into a number of projects in conjunction with The University of Sheffield including investigating certain proteins which aids the growth of breast cancer cells and identifying more efficiently the metastasis of breast cancer into the bone.
To support Claire visit mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/clairecologne1