Mother’s charity walk will pay tribute to Jane

WHEN she was first diagnosed with cancer, Emma Craven did not need to look any further for inspiration in battling the disease than across the hospital waiting room.

Emma, a mother of one from Apperley Bridge, Bradford, discovered she had the disease in 2004 when it was found in a mole in her chest.

And during the endless circuit of tests and examinations at the oncology department at St James’s Hospital Leeds, she would often cross paths with fundraiser Jane Tomlinson who at the time was having chemotherapy against the terminal breast cancer she bravely battled for so many years.

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In 2010, a year after Jane’s death, 44-year-old Emma was given the all-clear and started to plan for a life free of the disease.

But earlier this year, she was given the devastating news that the cancer had returned in two tumours in her left arm.

Now, just months after having major surgery where every lymph node in her arm was cut out, she has signed up to take part in the inaugral Jane Tomlinson’s Walk For All Festival in the summer as a tribute to the Yorkshire woman who inspired her own cancer battle.

“I used to see Jane when she was having chemotherapy and I was being checked out at St James’s,”she said.

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“We never spoke. It wasn’t the time or place to go up to her.

“Jane has always been an inspiration to me, obviously because it was so local as well.

“For a lot of women in West Yorkshire, Jane Tomlinson has given us hope.

“All the extra years of her life she managed to obtain through her achievements is incredible.

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“On the day she will be high up in the forefront of my mind.

“I have got quite a lot of determination and grit as well – I have needed it to get me through,” she said.

Emma’s battle with cancer has been as much of a personal challenge as what Jane herself went through.

A keen runner, the disease sapped her of her strength and forced her to completely alter the way she lived her life, as well as having to take years off work.

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Even now she is only able to work part-time as personal assistant to a managing director of AETC Ltd, her job for the past 25 years.

But following the most recent operation, despite still having treatment for malignant melanoma third stage cancer, she hopes she is now on the way to returning to full health.

“My husband and son have been really great in helping me through it”, she said.

“My whole family has rallied around me.

“It was devastating to say the least to be told that I had skin cancer, but my husband Stephen took the news worse than I did.

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“To be told it had returned again after all those years was even worse.

“I had fought it so hard and it had come back.”

Emma took part in the first ever Jane Tomlinson Run for All, which she launched in 2007 when she was still battling cancer, and is also running in the Cancer Research UK 5K Race For Life later this year.

She will be walking the five-mile route in the Walk For All Yorkshire Dales Walking Festival, which takes place on August 14, in a group of seven family and friends, including her husband and 14-year-old son, Marcus.

“It sounds a brilliant event”, she said.

“We will be going up to the Dales to make a weekend of it and book ourselves into a bed and breakfast near Settle.

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“By August I should be absolutely fine, now I am starting to get my life back.”

Participants are rushing to enrol in the major new Yorkshire Dales charity event – launched by the family of Jane Tomlinson in her memory.

More than half of the number of people it was hoped would sign up to the festival have already booked places, despite entries only opening less than two months ago.

The festival, which had been two years in the planning, will take place amid the stunning countryside Jane and her family used to explore and where, tragically, she first suffered the crippling chest pains in 2000 that led to her being diagnosed with terminal cancer just four months later.

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The event features three routes, covering 26 miles, 14 miles and a five-mile option beginning and ending in Settle.

There is also a four-and-a-half-mile route for people in wheelchairs.

The festival – which is backed by the Yorkshire Post as a media partner – has capacity for 2,500 participants.