Karen McMillan-Jones hopes to inspire others by completing the 22-mile challenge in the swimming pool at the town’s Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Gym.
The 55-year-old, who has been medically retired from her job in the Women’s Unit at Harrogate District Hospital following her cancer diagnosis, will begin her swim on Tuesday, February 21 and is aiming to finish the distance – a total of 1,804 lengths – in less than a month.
Karen said: Since being diagnosed with cancer I’ve been on a mission to become as fit as possible through incorporating lifestyle changes to my diet and physical activities. I decided to join a gym and went for an induction session at Nuffield where I was shown how to use the cardiovascular equipment and weights. But I’ve always been a bit of a swimmer and the pool was beckoning more. I feel like I can keep going for ever and ever. I found myself going in the pool almost every day.
A friend told me that her daughter had swum the equivalent of the Channel and I decided that would be a great challenge for me. I thought I’ve got cancer, I’ve faced chemotherapy, and if I can go through that there’s nothing I can’t do. I decided to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research because I want the money to stay in our region and benefit people I know.
Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her liver in January 2016. She began a course of chemotherapy in February, which lasted for more than four months. She is now taking a hormone therapy to contain the cancer while attending regular check-ups.
Karen is aware that her treatment has been palliative, meaning her cancer may never be cured, but she is currently feeling well and is keen to live life to the full. She has also balanced her diagnosis with caring for her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia.
Karen said: When you get a cancer diagnosis you realise what’s important in life. I’m lucky to have had great support from my family and friends, and my faith has also got me through it. Whatever’s around the corner I’m going to face it with a positive attitude, and I hope that through my fundraising I can inspire people. Cancer isn’t a death sentence anymore.
Louise Robinson, Regional Fundraiser for North Yorkshire at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: We’re incredibly proud that Karen has chosen to raise money for our charity. She’s been a huge inspiration to us all and we’re amazed by the way she has faced her cancer with such positivity.
The money she receives in sponsorship will help to improve cancer outcomes in Yorkshire by raising awareness of cancer and how to prevent it, promoting screening programmes to increase early detection and funding innovative research projects. We wish Karen the very best of luck in her Channel swim – we know she can do it.
To sponsor Karen, please visit www.ycr.org.uk/karenmcmillanjones
For more information about fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research, see www.ycr.org.uk/teamyorkshire