Your Stories

Jackie's
Story

I love exercise not just because it is great for my mind, body and soul, but because I have seen how me moving has helped others move forward in their lives.

I was an active, try-hard, sporty child (although an appalling gymnast), but was stopped in my tracks in my mid 20s when I was told I would need major pelvic surgery to be able to walk without pain again as a result of hip dysplasia (shallow hips).

I spent my 20s not being able to dance at friend’s weddings. I spent about five years in pain after having my pelvis sawn in three and moved to create a deeper socket for my hip bone. I have four long metal pins in my left side and a long scar surrounded by 44 tiny scar holes.

Then, at 32, just three weeks after my partner of 13 years proposed to me, I was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. I had my right breast removed and replaced with my tummy fat. I then went through chemo, IVF (to preserve embryos) and radiotherapy. I turned to exercise during chemo as a way of taking control of my body and reminding myself that serious health challenges didn’t have to define me.

On paper, I belong on the sofa. But, during chemo, I wanted a reason to get out into the fresh air and move forward with my life. I wanted to do something for me, to carve out space away from the relentless schedule of appointments.

Running gave me hope.

I chose running because it was the hardest thing I could think of. I went for my first run with my dad the day my hair started falling out. Then, I ran my first 10k the week before my last chemo.

Determined to continue, I ran a half marathon the following year and, in 2017, my husband and I became the first couple in the world to get married on the Cutty Sark at 7.20am before running the London Marathon on the same day. We then trekked the Great Wall of China for honeymoon, raising 30k for charity. Since then, I have completed an ultra-marathon along the Seven Sisters’ cliffs, a half Ironman and a coast to coast cycle ride. I have continued to search for my edges and I haven’t found them yet.

I love exercise not just because it is great for my mind, body and soul, but because I have seen how me moving has helped others move forward in their lives.

I remember receiving an email the day after running the marathon from a lady who said that my story had helped her mum get out of a wheelchair for the first time in a year. I had made her believe that anything was possible. That, for me, is the power of exercise and movement. I am also so grateful that my efforts have helped people find and try exercise for themselves. It is so humbling to know my actions have helped others.

I build exercise into my life by starting each week planning it in (and penning it on the calendar). I exercise in the morning and I love being outside in nature.

I run two to three times a week, cycle two times a week (on a static bike) and walk long distances in the country at weekends. I love the life exercise gives me. I adore spin classes too and am excited that the studios are now open again. I also swim and have done both lane swimming and open water.

I also keep the habit by committing to big fundraising challenges. The latest challenge is that I will be attempting a Guinness World Record for the longest static cycling class in the world on my 40th birthday, 4 December 2021. The record is 28 hours. We are going to 29. I never thought I’d make 40, so it is a birthday I am keen to celebrate to show just how grateful I am to be here.

In the 40 days leading up to the big challenge, I am also encouraging as many people as possible to contribute KMs to a 40,000 KM goal, which is the equivalent of one turn round the globe. The aim? To raise £40k for Mintridge (exercise charity for children), CoppaFeel!, NHS Charities Together and Mind.

I also have a #40before40 list that includes learning to paddleboard, swimming in a lido for the first time, doing an ironman at my own pace and trying a new exercise class (I am going for aerial yoga).