She was fit, health and in her 20s when she was diagnosed with cancer, now Heather Duff is calling on Scots to run with her to beat the disease
A Scottish cancer survivor is urging people to swap their slippers for trainers by joining her in an exciting new winter event for Cancer Research UK.
Heather Duff is taking part in Scotland’s first ever 10k Cancer Research UK Snowflake Run in Edinburgh on 21 February and she is calling on men and women of all abilities to join her.
The unique new event is part of the Cancer Research UK Winter Run Series. It encourages people to keep running throughout the winter by taking on a 10k challenge, whilst raising money for research to help beat 200 types of cancer.
I'm under 30, I'm fit, I watch what I eat and I exercise, I'm a non-smoker and I don't drink much. If I can get cancer, anyone can
Participants can expect Holyrood Park to be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring falling snow and hugs from friendly polar bears on the finish line, providing an added incentive to conquer the cold for Cancer Research UK.
Heather, aged 29, of Winchburgh, West Lothian, hopes as many people as possible across Scotland will embrace the new challenge and help to raise vital funds for life-saving research.
For determined Heather, the Snowflake Run is very much part of her recovery from cervical cancer. She was given the news her cancer was in remission in August 2014.
Since then, Heather has set herself the challenge of 30 things to do before she turns 30-years-old in July. In addition, the sports community inclusion officer with Edinburgh Leisure, also intends to try 30 new sports.
Along the way, Heather has ticked off getting married to her partner Gordon and meeting a celebrity – comedian Adam Hills sang Happy Cancerversary to the tune of Happy Birthday in front of a large audience on the anniversary that Heather was diagnosed with cancer.
Heather has also bagged a Munro, dived from a 10m board at the Commonwealth Pool, become a home owner, and got a tattoo with her mum.
In the coming months, Heather also intends to ride a motorbike, learn to juggle, throw an axe in Canada and run a marathon. The Snowflake Run is part of Heather’s London Marathon training schedule.
Heather, who was diagnosed with cancer in April 2014, said: “Taking part in the Snowflake Run is an important part of celebrating my recovery and I’m looking forward to being part of such a fun event.
“The cold won’t put me off because I know the money I’m raising is helping to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. That’s what will keep me going come rain, shine or blizzard.
“From being diagnosed with cancer to being treated took just four months. But in that time my whole life changed.
“I wanted my list to be a celebration of life, a celebration of everything that's to come. I'm just so grateful to all my family and friends who got me through this. I didn't have to attend one appointment alone, someone was always there for me.
“Now I want to make the most of every minute which is why I have set myself these challenges.
“As I am still recovering from cancer treatment, my body can be a bit unpredictable and so I am having to take my marathon training cautiously. But it’s brilliant going out and about, especially with my dog Parsnip who was a present from my husband Gordon when I was diagnosed with cancer.”
"It's really important to me to raise awareness of this awful disease. I'm under 30, I'm fit, I watch what I eat and I exercise, I'm a non-smoker and I don't drink much. If I can get cancer, anyone can. We need to keep fighting back and the only way we'll do that is by raising money so that Cancer Research UK can keep working to find a cure.”
For those looking to get fitter in 2016, the Snowflake Run is the perfect new year challenge. Taking on the event could also provide seasoned runners with the motivation to banish the winter blues and keep training during the cold weather – all in aid of a good cause.
Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in Scotland, said: “We’re so excited that the Snowflake Run is taking place in Edinburgh for the first time and hope to see an avalanche of support for this unique new event.
Every day, around 85 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer, so we need as many people as possible to sign up.
Organisers hope around 1,300 people will enter the Edinburgh Snowflake Run and raise around £120,000 for vital research.
Cancer survival rates have doubled since the 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. But more funds and more supporters are needed to help beat cancer sooner.
Cancer Research UK spent nearly £31 million in Scotland last year, on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.