Two years ago Jill Hughes’ life was torn apart by a virulent strain of breast cancer with added complications. Aged 44 then, the married mum of two was feeling healthy after joining a fitness group based at Lakeside in Doncaster to become a runner.
Nagging breast pain took her to her GP, then tests revealed a 34mm lump that was identified as triple negative breast cancer - an aggressive form of the disease.
“I had the added complication of an invasive grade three tumour with lymph node involvement,” said Jill.
Within 10 days of visiting her GP she was in surgery at Doncaster Royal Infirmary where she herself works as a nurse treating patients with bowel cancer.
“I thought I was empathetic towards patients but I’m now so much more aware of how frightening a cancer diagnosis is,” she said. “I had weeks in bed while undergoing combined treatment including five months of chemotherapy after two operations.
“That was the hardest time - I was useless. Family and friends wanted to help and couldn’t. So once I gained strength and could get outside I wanted to run and gulp down air. I simply can’t get enough of it.”
Jill’s prognosis was poor as she began treatment, but her cancer was obliterated by the harsh treatment and she began her journey back to fitness. Her final radiotherapy treatment was in February last year.
“I had 10 months out of training and could manage only 30 seconds of running followed by two minutes walking,” she recalled.
“My coach Roger Laidlow set my routine and I built up the miles week by week.”
So much so that this year Jill has conquered the Sheffield half-marathon, the one-mile Great North Swim, the Clumber Park 10k trailblazer, the Pretty Muddy Run and the Castle Howard Starter Sprint Triathlon. The latter was with husband Karl who trained within six weeks as he wanted to keep her company.
Jill laughs as she recalls their tearful hug at the end was caught on television as the millionth runner sped past the finish line.
On September 25 she will take part in the 10k Great Yorkshire Run in Sheffield city centre as the finale to this year’s competitions.
Along the way Jill has raised cash towards her target of £1,000 for Cancer Research UK, and she has 99 per cent of her total.
To break her target, her schoolfriend Rebecca Storey is to hold an Afternoon Tea Party - take your own Prosecco - at Sunny Bank Garden Centre, Hatfield Woodhouse, on August 28 from 5.30pm.
“Rebecca and her husband Edward are to fund the whole afternoon, providing the venue and all the food,” said Jill. “All proceeds will help the valuable work of Cancer Research UK.”
The Afternoon Tea Party may become an annual event for Cancer Research.
“Rebecca and I have been through so much together. When we talk about my illness we always end up crying,” added Jill. “I’m so glad to be here with my husband and two lovely children. I want to do as much to help others as I can.”
Tickets for the tea party cost £12 - call 07779145038 to reserve a place.