Sally Steenkamp a ‘Runner Against Cancer’
Sally Steenkamp shares how she got involved with the running club ‘Runners Against Cancer’ (a group of activists participating in the Two Oceans Marathon to raise funds for CANSA Active) and why she continues to support them, despite a recent recurrance of cancer.
18 October 2016 – Let me start off by saying that I was never, and had no intention of ever being, a runner.
At the age of 40, in March 2011, I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer. I underwent 16 months of radical chemotherapy, radiation and various operations. During this time I lost all my strength, fitness and health.
At the end of my medical ordeal, some time in 2013, Shereen convinced me, or perhaps I convinced her – I can’t remember – to do a 5 km run for breast cancer awareness.
At the time I thought it would be impossible, coming off the medically crippling base I was, but with the encouragement and support of Shereen, I bought some new tackies and we trained and completed the 5 km run.
5 km, soon became 10 km…
As the years went by and my body returned to full health, Shereen convinced me, or again – was it the other way around (I forget), to join a running club. And very quickly I got hooked!
Somewhere along this running journey, it went from something I did not believe I could do, to something that empowered me to believe in myself and believe that despite all the radical medical issues I had faced during my time as a victim of cancer, I could regain my full health and achieve certain physical goals.
A year ago, Jacques Slabber cornered me in the school carpark and said that he wanted me to run the Two Oceans half marathon in aid of raising funds for cancer research.
Shereen and I enrolled as part of the “Runners Against Cancer” team last year and so began our real training for the 21 km run. To say that I loved every minute of our training journey would be an understatement.
We took part in various 10 km and 15 km races nearly every weekend. Waking up in the dark and driving to far off places, to start these weekend races, is something I will cherish forever.
And before we knew it, we were standing at the start of the challenging “Om die dam 21 km race” earlier this year.
When I crossed that finish line at Hartebeesport dam, I don’t remember ever feeling so proud of myself.
Not in my wildest dreams did I believe I could do it.
The Two Oceans run in Cape Town this year was extremely special for me.
Starting in the dark and in the rain with Jacques, Sue & Shereen was magical. When we all sung the national anthem I remember goosebumps all over my body. I crossed the finish line with Shereen and Sue – two very special friends of mine.
Friendships like these are the thing that kept me going through my cancer treatments and now here I was achieving something I never believed I would, raising awareness and money for people suffering from cancer.
It was a magical moment and one that will live on long in my mind as something that I am the most proud of ever achieving.
I was absolutely shocked in July this year when at a regular check-up, I was told my cancer was back – this time in the liver and bones.
I had actually had cancer in both the liver and bones, whilst running the Two Oceans half marathon – who knew?!
I now have stage 4 cancer. I’m guessing I won’t be able to run the half marathon next year, but I will certainly be there on the side lines cheering you all along all the way.
I consider myself very fortunate – I have the financial means to fight this disease with the best possible medical care in the world.
After the best chemotherapy in the top cancer hospital on the continent, I go home to a comfortable home and lie in a king sized comfortable bed surrounded by meals, love and support from friends and family.
I imagine that 99% of people who suffer the same disease in this country are NOT so lucky.
I hope that the money raised by this run will go towards making their lives a little easier, a little lighter and give them hope for a cure.
I simply CANNOT fathom how on earth people who have to catch taxis to and from state hospitals and go home to extremely cold or extremely hot shacks, cope.
Cancer – and by it’s association – chemotherapy, is the most debilitating thing anyone could ever have to deal with.
If you think running 21 km seems hard, Chemotherapy makes walking 5 steps seem like a 50 km run.
Health is everything!
The ability to wake up in the morning, healthy and free from disease, put on a pair of tackies, put your ear phones in your ears, and go for a run in our beautiful country, is something that you must never take for granted.
And the fact that you can do this and help people less fortunate than yourself through your fundraising efforts, and deal with one of the most terrifying diseases in the world, is something to cherish.
I have every belief that I will once again defy this dreaded disease and get a pair of running shoes back on again. In the mean time I wish you all the very best with your training and fundraising and cannot thank you enough for running for such a good cause. Thank You.