Super slim friends who have all been affected by cancer are trying to cycle 100 miles from Ilfracombe to Plymouth Hoe for charity. Caroline Hill, Katrina Jones and Robyn Holter, nicknamed McDuff, McFluff and McRuff, lost an incredible 18 and a half years between them where they met at Cullompton’s Slimming World. They will leave for their cycling challenge on Sunday, May 29.
The inspiration for this epic adventure comes from Caroline, who, on her parents’ 25th wedding anniversary, walked 100 miles to benefit deaf/blind children. This month, her parents will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary and she will be ten years away from cancer shortly after. She wants to show that she still has what it takes to take on challenges like this, but also raise money for a charity that saved her life.
Caroline is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed on April 24, 2012. She had seen an episode of embarrassing bodies during Breast Awareness Week and although she felt fine, she decided to have some changes she noticed checked out.
She had six other areas of cancer that had also started to grow. His treatment began immediately with a mastectomy, then chemotherapy, followed by radiation therapy. She has a tattoo. She had to have her gallbladder removed during this whole process and her eternal memory is eight consultants around her bed at one time. The chemotherapy treatment was harsh and led to a clot in her sample line, which was very serious.
She was overweight and that could have led to more blood clots. So she had to give herself two anticoagulant injections to help reduce the risk of having another one. The legacy of cancer is that when she walks any distance she feels a burning sensation in her feet that makes her feel like she is walking on razor blades, hence the challenge of cycling rather than something else.
During her treatment Caroline was part of an ongoing research project, her biopsies were sent to America and without the research she says she would have died. Not only was it a physically difficult time, but Caroline was also completing her thesis for her undergraduate degree as a mature student when she received her diagnosis. She graduated with a bald head and gained 30 extra pounds in just three weeks while on steroids.
In 2019, she lost 6 stone 2 pounds with Slimming World ready for her son’s wedding. She decided to get involved to take control of her life and wanted her son to be proud of her. It was there that she found support, camaraderie and friendship, especially from her friends who join her on the bike ride.
On May 30, 2022, she will be cancer-free for ten years, the day after the charity race.
Katrina Jones’ husband was diagnosed with cancer in February 2021. However, the story begins in March 2018 when she insisted her husband go to his doctor about his “irritating” cough. They found a lump on his larynx, removed it, but the biopsy came back as inconclusive for cancer.
However, following several quarterly checks, a mark at the base of her tongue and a second lump on her larynx were found, both cancerous. Other scans showed that they had not removed all the cancer during the operation.
As a result, he had to undergo radiation therapy. After four weeks of daily radiotherapy in August 2021, her treatment was finally over, but it would take another six months before she could be told the cancer was gone. On March 2, 2022, he was finally told he was in remission. It will now have to undergo regular quarterly checks for at least the next five years. There is, unsurprisingly, long-term damage to his throat from the radiation, but “I’m thankful he’s still here,” Katrina says.
Katrina describes what it’s like to try to support someone with cancer as “difficult, lonely, helpless and isolating, you get angry, you get frustrated and you have to put on a brave face”. Sometimes she wanted to “scream or cry or just need a hug” and that’s where the friends she’d made in her group Slimming World came in.
She added: “The support has been amazing. I joined in December 2013 after being diagnosed as pre-diabetic and lost 5 stone 11 lbs. Take control and be responsible for your own health,” she added.
Robyn Holter has been affected by cancer throughout her life and many of her family and friends have been diagnosed with this deadly disease. She never met her grandmother, as she died of bowel cancer before she was born. Her father had skin cancer, her father’s leukemia, her aunt is a breast cancer survivor.
In 2013, her sister was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and thought she was cancer free after a full hysterectomy. Unfortunately, just over a year later, it was confirmed that the cancer had returned and had spread to the kidneys, thyroid, liver, pancreas and abdomen. She lives with her cancer every day because it is incurable, but her symptoms and pain are controlled by medication.
Robyn joined Slimming World after seeing a doctor about a reflux problem and was, like Katrina, diagnosed as pre-diabetic. She was offered either a weight loss group or Weight Watchers. She opted for the Slimming World band and hasn’t looked back since, losing six stone and 6.5 pounds in total.
She finds the support, positivity and friendship of the Slimming World group to be the best kind of support. Robyn has always wanted to host a charity event, but until now she wasn’t convinced she could. With the support of her friends, she is really looking forward to the challenge, even if she is a little apprehensive.
They all found the lockdown difficult and are now working to lose the stone or more weight they each gained during that time. They also encourage everyone to take their free NHS exams and see your doctor when you notice any changes in your body, after all they are provided for free and could save your life.
Support them on their Just Give page, named after their nicknames, while encouraging them to keep going. Just Giving McDuff, McFluff, McRuff, with Vicki Wiblin (McPuff) and all their husbands are their support team.
Slimming World also currently raises money for cancer research by asking its members to donate clothes that no longer suit them to cancer research, the annual event is known as ‘the big throw of clothes”. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/team/McDuffMcFluffandMcRuff
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