Broch woman in race for life

Sheila Williams, Race for Life.
Sheila Williams, Race for Life.

A Fraserburgh woman who is recovering from cancer is making a stand against the disease by signing up to Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life.

Sheila Williams, 48, was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma in August 2011 after noticing a lump by chance when a necklace fell off.

And after finishing treatment she lost her beloved dog and training partner Bud to the disease.

Sheila is issuing the rallying cry ‘Cancer, we are coming to get you’ as she urges women of all ages to join her by signing up now for the Aberdeen event which takes place on Sunday, June 30 at Kings Links Beach Esplanade.

For the first time this year, Aberdeen will also host a 10K Race for Life, as well as the 5K which attracted an amazing 4,500 women last year, including Sheila.

Sheila, who lives in Falkirk, went to the GP to get a lump checked after noticing it when a necklace fell off.

At the time Sheila was in training for a 10k. Two days before the biopsy she had run about 6k and felt fine. But after tests doctors told Sheila she had stage four Hodgkins lymphoma.

“My first thought was, OK I have got cancer. That’s not good. And they had found a spot on my liver. But I knew that I at least I had a chance at beating it.”

Sheila, a librarian, finished her treatment in February last year. The treatment was successful but Sheila was devastated after cancer touched her life again. Her beloved dog Bud, Sheila’s training partner, got cancer. Sadly Bud died in April. Now, Sheila is doing Race for Life to honour his memory.

“Bud was the one that saw me through chemotherapy in a way. He was with me every single day and sometimes the only thing that got me through it was that I had to get outside and take him for a walk!”

Sheila had been married to husband Mark less than a year when she was diagnosed with cancer. Just two months into the six month course of chemotherapy the couple got good news.

“The day after our first anniversary we got the news that I was in remission. That felt incredible! I couldn’t have got through it without Mark. He has been just wonderful.”

Sheila is determined to beat cancer and get back to being fighting fit. “I had put on weight with the steroids. But I was focused on getting through the chemotherapy so I could start training again for a 5k. I am still walking, trying to do as much running as possible, yoga and I got a bicycle! I can’t run with Bud but I can run for him.”

She has been overwhelmed by support from her family, friends and colleagues at Queen Margaret University Library.

“I lost all my hair but it didn’t bother me. I used to be bald in the 70s when I was a punk rocker. So I just wore hats. I will never forget when I came in for a staff party at Christmas and wondered why everyone was rushing to get in before me. When I came into the room they were all wearing hats!”

Sheila says having cancer has changed her life. And doing Race for Life is her way of fighting back.

“I think I have always been a glass half full kind of person but since I have had cancer I keep reminding myself that life begins every day, when you wake up and you are still alive.”

She added: “Taking part in Race for Life is my way of fighting back against cancer. I’m so grateful for the research that has helped me and now I want to help others by supporting Cancer Research UK’s work.”

Hamish Moir, Cancer Research UK’s events manager for Aberdeen, said: “We are so grateful to Sheila for signing up for Race for Life and taking on the challenge.

“By raising money through Race for Life, people in Aberdeen are helping Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists make advances in research which will help more men, women and children survive.”

Last year, more than four thousand women took part in the Aberdeen Race for Life and raised a fantastic £389,700.

Hamish added: “Race for Life is non-competitive. It doesn’t matter how fit or fast you are. Taking part is about joining together against a disease that affects all of us. You can walk the 5k route, run it, jog it or even dance your way round if you prefer. And participants in Aberdeen can choose the 5k or 10k route. Please take the first step by signing up today.”

Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its ground-breaking research but with help from the people of Aberdeen the charity intends to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, Cancer Research UK was able to spend over £33 million last year in Scotland on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research. In Aberdeen, the charity is supporting researchers uses tiny yeast cells to understand how DNA is copied to create new cells. Cancer starts when too many new cells are produced, so studying yeast can give vital clues to how this happens and inspiring new ideas for targeting the disease with drugs.