Grace Bellerby was only 25 when she was first diganosed with breast cancer. Now 36 and suffering from incurable stage four breast cancer Grace is about to embark on a fundraising challenge for the charity which has helped her find a way to live her life to the full.
Next month, which is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Grace, from Burley-in-Wharfedale, will be tackling her latest– and most daunting – fundraising challenge, a 21-day trek up the imposing 6,500 meter high Mera Peak in Nepal to raise money for The Haven Cancer Centre in Leeds. Last year saw her complete the Annapurna circuit, also in Nepal in aid of The Yorkshire Cancer Centre.
As part of her training for Mera Peak, Grace, who works in dental sales, was one of the Haven visitors taking part in The Haven Hike. The challenge, which took place in June, was to complete the Yorkshire Three peaks in less than 12 hours, they succeeded raising more than £4,000 for the cancer centre.
Her love of walking started after her second diagnosis which came when she was 32. “I realised how important it was to stay fit and healthy,” she said.
“I started to walk a lot often going out into the Dales.” These turned into challenges and Grace sees them as a way to help others in her position.
“I want to show my gratitude and be able to help other people get through the tough times. Without charities like this we would be lost,” she said.
Grace’s early battle with cancer started after finding a lump just before she was going away on holiday.
“I had the tests and my doctor said: ‘Look, it’s not going to be cancer at your age – don’t worry about it’.”
So thinking it would be nothing Grace went to get the results alone. “It was really quite a shock when I found out that it was cancer,” she said.
The following year passed in what Grace described as a ‘complete whirlwind’ of chemotherapy and radiotherapy then mastectomy surgery and a reconstruction.
The second blow struck seven years later when, in 2012, she found a lump in her armpit. The following scan showed a tumour which had eaten into her sternum, the right side of her ribs, lymph nodes and the base of her skull. It was just after this diagnosis, Grace found a lifeline in national charity, The Haven, which has a centre on East Street in Leeds.
“Without The Haven I don’t know where I’d be. I’m quite a positive person but the support here has been wonderful it has helped me to cope better with my illness. I’ve learnt to relax and found a way to control my symptoms and help me get on with life.”
To support Grace’and help her raise hit her £2,000 target visit www.justgiving.com/Grace-Bellerby1/
The Haven is a national charity with centres in London, Hereford, Yorkshire, Wessex and Worcester.
Anyone can visit The Haven, there are no geographical restrictions and there is no need for a doctor’s referral.
The charity offers advice on practical matters such as money, work, and combatting symptoms. As well as nurses, councillors and therapists offer emotional support.
The Yorkshire Haven is at 4-5 The Gateway West, East Street, Leeds, LS9 8DA. Call 0113 284 7829