Jane determined to prove that this woman can

Jane Martin is counting down to her first marathon – the Women Can race on May 27.

She will be running to raise money for FORCE Cancer Charity, one of the partner organisations for this year’s second women-only marathon in East Devon.

In 2015 Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer and needed surgery and radiotherapy.

During and after treatment she received support from FORCE, the Exeter based charity that offers face-to-face help for anyone affected by cancer. 

“Their support was invaluable,” said Jane. “I received massages, counselling, care, friendship and lovely cups of tea!”

Exercise has been an important part of Jane’s coping mechanism since her diagnosis and treatment. She suffers from scanxiety, something many cancer patients experience while waiting to undergo a medical scan or receive the results of one.

It haunts her around the time of routine mammograms so her counsellor suggested doing something to take her mind off it. Jane, in her own, typically fearless style, opted for a triathlon and with equally characteristic determination, completed it.

This year she wanted a new challenge so has entered the Women Can Marathon.

“I was going to do the relay as part of a team but I wasn’t sure whether it would work, crossing the finish line together and that’s what I wanted, so I decided to do the whole distance myself,” she said.

“I looked at the finish times from last year and spoke to Johnny Hooper (fitness and running coach and FORCE supporter) who said I’d be OK. He’s provided a training programme and helped with nutrition advice. By the start of February I was up to running for 1 hour 20 minutes so I just wanted to keep building.

“I’m really excited about it, a bit worried but I thought for my first, and probably my last marathon, this would be fun and everybody says it’s a beautiful course.

“Since my diagnosis I have been at my sportiest! Although I always went to the gym I was never a very keen runner. That changed when I was told by my oncologist that radiotherapy to my left side may affect my lungs and heart. Always the optimist I thought…’No it won’t’… and have set out since to prove him wrong.

“I won’t be fast, but hopefully I will finish it and raise much needed money to enable FORCE to carry on their great work.”

As ever, husband Gary will be supporting her every step of the way. 

“I think it’s a great thing for her to do. I’m not keen to do anything like that with her but I understand her need for a focus to distract her from the anxiety of scans and tests. She’s a very strong person and of course I’m proud of everything she does,” he said.

Jane and Gary have always done charity work, mainly through their church, and both volunteer for FORCE. Jane helps out at the RD&E oncology snack bar and at the charity’s Support Centre and the couple from Kennford have also been involved at a host of fundraising events including The Nello, Autumn Series, Great West Run, Jurassic 10K and Classics Galore!

They have helped organise coffee mornings and Jane is a demon at getting raffle prizes with an irresistible effervescence. Gary is the perfect, quiet foil.

“We do it because we enjoy it and it’s a very worthwhile cause,” said Jane. “I want to make sure it carries on and there’s enough funding for that.

“There’s no money from the NHS or the Government so I want to do my bit to ensure there is always someone there for the person who comes through FORCE’s doors after receiving a cancer diagnosis, needing to speak to someone who understands what they’re going through and what they need.”

She finished treatment in September 2015 and wanted to do something in return for the support she had received from FORCE.

“There’s never any suggestion from FORCE that you should do anything,” Jane is quick to point out. “It was something that I needed to do. It’s such a great cause and as a charity, it needs money to run.”

“When you’re fundraising for FORCE you know that every pound you donate can make a massive difference and you can see where it’s spent. Every single pound is used well.”

To sponsor Jane, go to https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/runningjane