Leeds Half Marathon: Cleckheaton woman vows cancer won't stop her as she laces up her running shoes again

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A Cleckheaton woman who started chemotherapy just days after running her first marathon has vowed not to let her cancer diagnosis stop her.

Melanie Hartley, 40, is one of the inspirational runners who will be taking part in the Leeds Half Marathon next month.

Melanie’s running journey began last year when she signed up for her very first marathon, the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon.

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Young, fit and healthy, it was just one week before she was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of breast cancer.

Melanie Hartley, from Cleckheaton, will be running the Leeds Half Marathon in MayMelanie Hartley, from Cleckheaton, will be running the Leeds Half Marathon in May
Melanie Hartley, from Cleckheaton, will be running the Leeds Half Marathon in May

Determined to still run the marathon and after speaking with her oncologist, she was advised that she could still run the marathon, providing that she started a very tough chemotherapy regime just three days later.

"I ran that difficult hilly marathon on such a hot day with my new diagnosis still spinning in my mind but it made me even more determined to enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere and I loved it,” she said.

"I ran it in four hours 22, which I was very pleased with as I’d engaged with the crowd, and other runners and took plenty of photos along the way, appreciating every minute of it.

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"I even managed a last-minute fundraiser and raised nearly £3,000 in one week for the Oscars Paediatric Brain Tumour Charity, which I was so thrilled with.

"Just three days after running the marathon, I had my first chemotherapy treatment. I was anxious about starting chemo but I was still buzzing from the marathon and I took my medal with me. It helped so much.

"It was my mission to book in for another marathon the following year as I loved it so much. However, cancer had another plan for me. It has spread to other parts of my body, and so quickly.

“I now have stage four incurable cancer and I’m back on chemotherapy but permanently.”

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Determined to keep up the running, Melanie will be running the Leeds Half Marathon with her colleagues at Rucklidge Law to show that anything is possible, even with a life-limiting disease.

“My body has already taken a lot this year and will continue to do so,” she said.

"Therefore, I’ve set my sights slightly lower and have booked in for the half marathon this year instead.

"In doing so, I’ve managed to rally a huge team of friends, family and colleagues to run with me. Some of whom have never ran a race in their lives before and my wonderful husband is running the race with me, which will be his first ever half marathon.

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"I’ve been deeply touched by the support I’ve received from everyone.

"Running this half marathon will be the most special run I’ve ever done, with my closest family and friends by my side.

"I’m determined not to let my health affect my passion for fitness and running. I’ll be doing this as long as I’m physically possible and who knows, maybe I have another full marathon in me.

"For anyone thinking of signing up, don’t hesitate, you will not regret it.

“If I can do it, you can.”

The Leeds Half Marathon will take place on May 12 on the same day as the Rob Burrow Leeds Marathon. For more details, visit runforall.com

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