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"After 16 years, I thought I was done and dusted with cancer"

Friday 20 May 2022

"After 16 years, I thought I was done and dusted with cancer"

Friday 20 May 2022


A Jersey mum with incurable cancer, her survivor friend and a team of ‘rainbow warriors’ will be running 3k this weekend to raise money for a charity she says she wouldn’t still be here without.

Rose Shepherd, thought her cancer experience was a distant bad memory after 16 years in the clear.

“But it seems one little cell had escaped through my blood stream, and all those years later, the cancer came back,” Rose, who has now been told her secondary cancer is incurable, reflected.

But, undeterred, she is fighting back and taking part in Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life in Jersey this Sunday (22 May).

Rose will be joined by friend and cancer survivor, Jenny Miley, who is just coming to the end of her own treatment for primary breast cancer. They are part of a 15-strong team called Jenroses Rainbow Warriors will take part in the 3k version of the event to raise money for life-saving research.

“Doing Race for Life will be a huge challenge as I already have fibromyalgia and my mobility isn’t great. But I’m going to do it,” said Rose.

“I want people to understand we need Cancer Research UK – without them, I wouldn’t be here today – it’s as simple as that.”

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Pictured: Rose (right) with friend and cancer survivor, Jenny Miley. (John Ovenden)

Rose was first diagnosed with breast cancer 20 years ago. She had a mastectomy, lymph clearance and six weeks of radiotherapy.

“I got on with my life and I didn’t think about cancer anymore. As far as I was concerned, it was done and dusted. I never thought for one second it would return,” she said.

But in 2017, Rose noticed she was getting pain in her back and ribs.

She wasn't unduly concerned as she was a regular gym-goer and would occasionally get flare-ups from her fibromyalgia.

Unfortunately, following medical investigations over the course of a month, she learnt that she had five cancerous lesions on her spine - news that left her in "utter shock".

She began treatment immediately and had to switch drugs several times as the disease progressed. 

“There are good days and bad days,” Rose explained of how the illness can take its toll. “I allow myself the odd meltdown. You can stay in your PJs and have a ‘woe is me’ day. It takes an awful lot of willpower to move on because it’s easier to lie in bed with the covers over your head. 

“So I allow myself that now and again but I don’t allow myself to live there.” 

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Pictured: Rose is mum to Kyle (28) and Kristan (27).

Rose was forced to leave her job in Trust Administration because of her health but has thrown herself into campaigning for a radiotherapy unit in Jersey to save patients travelling to Southampton for treatment.

This also means she now has time to enjoy the island more than ever, "walking barefoot on the beach" and enjoying the fresh air.

“I used to have a hugely active lifestyle so that is one of the things I have found hard to accept. But on days when my mobility isn’t so good, I’ve found a real love of reading and I’m doing some drawing now.”

Rose’s friend and fellow racerunner, Jenny (47) - whose own mum and sister had gone through breast cancer - was diagnosed with breast cancer last April after finding a lump.

She had three lumps removed in June, followed by a mastectomy. Six months of chemotherapy followed and three weeks of radiotherapy in Southampton, leaving husband Martin to look after their two children.

Rose, who lost her dad, Brian, to lung cancer, has a strong network of family and friends and has made many new friends through the Jersey cancer community, some of whom, like Jenny, will be doing Race for Life this Sunday with her.

“We all have a reason to Race for Life. For me it will be a celebration of our friendship as well as a chance to raise money to help others facing cancer right now."

She said she wanted to "play my part to fund research today which I hope will also help beat cancer for future generations,” she said. 

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life is a series of race events all over the UK which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research. Race for Life in Jersey has 3k, 5k and 10k options and is open to people of all ages and abilities.

RFL_L-R_Sophie_Fisher_Lydia_Ward_Jenny_Miley_Cathy_Goed_Rose_Shepherd_Sally-Ann_Wignall_Tracy_Ovenden_Julie_Toporis_and_Holly_Wood._credit_John_Ovenden.jpg

Pictured - left to right: The Jenroses Rainbow Warriors race team is made up of Sophie Fisher, Lydia Ward, Jenny Miley, Cathy Goed, Rose Shepherd, Sally-Ann Wignall, Tracy Ovenden, Julie Toporis and Holly Wood. (John Ovenden)

Lynn Daly,  Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in the Channel Islands, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Rose, Jenny and their team for their support. 

“Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way. Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life. So we’re asking islanders: “Who will you Race for?” 

“Our Race for Life events are open to all. For some people, the Race for Life is literally a walk in the park. Slow and steady still wins. For others, it’s a jog. Others may opt to push themselves harder, taking up the challenge of the 10K distance and even pushing for a new personal best time.  

“But what is for certain is we’re looking forward to welcoming people of all ages and abilities. Race for Life in Jersey will be fun, emotional, colourful, uplifting and an unforgettable event this year.”   

CLICK HERE to donate.

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