A Warwick mum who lost four stone through a combination of running and healthy eating says she owes her life to the slimmed-down body that revealed a life-threatening tumour in her breast.
On October 13, four years to the day since she rang the bell for the end of breast cancer treatment, Louise Roberts (48) will be making a stand against the disease by staying on her feet for 13 hours in aid of Stand Up To Cancer.
The national Stand Up To Cancer campaign will culminate Friday October 15, with a night of live TV on Channel 4.
Louise, who works as a nursery teacher at a school in Leamington, is backing Stand Up To Cancer, the joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
Stand Up To Cancer helps to take breakthroughs from the lab and transform them into cutting-edge treatments that could help save more lives.
Louise was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017 after discovering a lump while having a shower. She was aged 44 at the time and had two young children, Eve (eight) and Anya (six).
She said: “If it hadn’t been for the weight loss, I don’t think I would have noticed the lump – or it would have been a lot later when I did.
"I’m so grateful I lost that four stone because I really do think it saved my life.
“When I first felt the lump I thought it was just the new shape of my body now I was smaller.
"But when I checked on the other side it wasn’t the same; there was definitely something there.
"That’s when I went straight to the GP and mercifully, I was diagnosed really quickly. I’d urge anyone who notices a change in their body to do the same – it could save your life.”
Louise underwent her dramatic weight loss when she took up running seriously and joined a slimming group.
She has maintained her passion for running and even ran regularly during her cancer treatment.
Now equally passionate about helping to save lives by funding cancer research, Louise is keen to give the cause a leg-up by standing for 13 whole hours to mark the day four years ago when she finished treatment.
Louise is urging people of all ages and abilities to join the fundraising initiative on or around October 15 and several friends and colleagues from Louise’s school have already pledged to join her.
With around 36,800 people being diagnosed with cancer every year in the West Midlands, Louise understands all too clearly the need to speed up progress in the fight against the disease.
When her lump was investigated it turned out to be two malignant tumours. After a full mastectomy and lymph node clearance, Louise was treated with both chemotherapy and radiotherapy to mop up any remaining cancer cells.
She said: “When they first told me I had cancer I was devastated. For weeks I couldn’t look at my children without bursting into tears.
"I was so afraid they would have to grow up without their mum.
“When the surgeons told me they had got all the cancer out it was the best day of my life.
"It was a blow to lose my hair to chemotherapy as I had just grown it long, but it was a small price to pay for peace of mind.”
Louise felt such a sense of relief when she had her last chemo session at the Nuffield Hospital Warwickshire that she bought them an ‘end of treatment’ bell. She was the first patient to ring it.
Louise added: “My cancer was a huge shock for my husband, Mark, as he had already been through it with his sister who had Hodgkin Lymphoma.
"He was my rock. I was always honest but positive with my children and I think it helped them believe that I wasn’t going to die.
“It’s thanks to losing four stone that I found my cancer in time. But it’s thanks to research and treatment that I’m still standing and can look forward to a future full of special moments with my loved ones.”
On her standing up challenge, Louise said: “I think staying active has really helped me both mentally and physically on my cancer journey.
"I’m on my feet a lot of the time at work, but not having any breaks or even a little sit down for 13 hours could be tough – I’m sure Eve and Anya won’t allow me to cheat though.
“My experience has helped me appreciate how crucial research is, so I’m determined to help more people survive.
"With charities having been hit so hard by the pandemic, it feels more important than ever for everyone to do what they can.
"Getting sponsored to stand up for the day is such a simple way to support research and show solidarity with everyone affected by this devastating disease.
"So, I hope people in Warwickshire will get on their feet and stand with me for Stand Up To Cancer. Together, we can help to make sure that cancer doesn’t have a leg to stand on.”
Stand Up To Cancer, now in its ninth year in the UK, has raised more than £84 million, funding 59 clinical trials and projects involving over 19,000 cancer patients across the country.
Jane Redman, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the West Midlands, said: “We are very grateful to Louise for helping us to continue our mission. 1 in 2 of us will get cancer in our lifetime, but all of us can play a part to help beat it.
"That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer, by standing up on Friday October 15. It really is as simple as that.
“The challenge itself might be harder than it sounds, but it’s not difficult to imagine the difference it could make to people like Louise.
"The money raised will go directly to our life-saving research, helping our tireless scientists face their own feat of endurance to constantly develop tests and treatments for those who need them most. If we all stand united, we can save lives.”
To sign up and get a free fundraising kit at su2c.org.uk/standing-up