The family of a Shropshire mum who discovered she had breast cancer after going to hospital with suspected gall stones, are set to Race for Life in her memory this weekend.
Deborah Bowness, 50, died on August 26, after a 15-month-long battle with the disease.
Her younger sister Vicky today paid tribute to Deborah’s courage and said her family would be joining Race for Life at Telford Town Park this Sunday in her honour to raise funds for Cancer Research UK.
“Deborah was the best big sister, mum and aunt we could have wished for,” said Vicky from Whitchurch. “She was so strong and courageous. Even when she was really sick, she was thinking of others.
“I was especially shocked to see how much Cancer Research UK had been affected during COVID so we will be racing on Sunday with Deborah’s name on our backs. I would encourage anyone who can to join in.”
Vicky will be running with her three children Sophie, Evie and Seth. Joining them will be Deborah’s daughter Ella.
Deborah’s breast cancer diagnosis on June 1, 2020, came as a huge shock to the family who had been expecting hospital test results to come back positive for gall stones.
“She’d been having pain in her liver so she was referred to hospital for suspected gall stones,” said Vicky. “Myself, my mum and my younger sister have all had them so we were joking that it was her turn.
“She had several scans and found out she actually had advanced breast cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs. My mum called me to give me the news and I fell to the ground in shock. To hear that she wasn’t going to get better was gut wrenching.”
Deborah continued working as a sales controller for an accountancy firm during six months of chemotherapy treatment but, by autumn last year, the cancer had spread to her spine. She underwent a further six sessions of chemotherapy between February and May 2021, during which time the family were dealt yet another cruel blow. Deborah’s dad was diagnosed with skin cancer.
“Dad had a malignant mole on his back 20 years ago and, while Deborah was going through chemotherapy, he found out the melanoma had come back,” said Vicky. “They were having treatment at the same time which was tough. I know dad felt guilty that his cancer was treatable.”
In April, Vicky’s children raised £1,600 for Cancer Research UK by doing 5k a day.
“Deborah was so proud of them,” said Vicky. “They told her they were doing it because they wanted to find a way to ‘make this horrible disease not exist anymore.’”
In July, Deborah was re-admitted to hospital after the cancer spread to her brain but she was able to spend her last days at home.
“Even in the last stages of her illness she was thinking of others,” added Vicky. “She was buying little gifts for people and even organised little surprises for her husband’s 50th a few days after she died.
“I wouldn’t wish the pain we’re going through as a family right now on anyone but we will do anything we can to support others so that they don’t have to go through the same agony. At the moment one in two people get cancer in their lifetime and research is key to beating it.”
Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, which has been in partnership with Tesco for 20 years, is an inspiring series of 3K, 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research to help beat 200 types of cancer.
Paula Young, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for Shropshire, said: “We are immensely grateful to Vicky and her family for their support at such a difficult time.
“Race for Life gives people the chance to come together and remember those we have lost while raising funds for the vital research that’s needed to beat cancer.
“People can run, walk or jog the courses which incorporate socially distanced measures to keep people safe.
“All 400 mass participation Race for Life events across the UK were cancelled last year to protect the country’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic. So this year, more than ever, we need people to enter the Race for Life – for the people we love, for the people we’ve lost and for the one in two of us who will get cancer.”
Enter now at raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.