160 APPEAL: Cancer survivor is taking on Prospect’s Big Swim

5:00am Friday 30th May 2014

NEVER had the importance of supporting her local hospice dawned on Rebecca Rowland so much as when her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer seven years ago and referred to Prospect.

When she learned she had breast cancer last year, she too faced the possibility of needing its staff’s care and support.

Now in remission, the mother-of-two from Wroughton, was lucky enough to recover and avoid palliative care, unlike her mother Shirley Edmonds who died at Prospect Hospice in 2007.

Over the worst of it, Rebecca was prompted to tackle the Wroughton charity’s Big Swim challenge this summer in memory of her mother and for all those who, like her, may find themselves considering seeking its help one day.

“The Prospect has been close to my and my family’s heart for over seven years,” said the 48-year-old inSwindon BID manager. “My mum had breast cancer when she was 38 and survived but she was diagnosed with lung cancer in July 2007. She was 71. “She died in October. She spent four weeks in Prospect and they gave her amazing care. We all just felt it was an amazing place.

“The second reason I’m doing this is that I was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2013. “I had six courses of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiation therapy in Bath.

“It was a turbulent year. I didn’t use Prospect but they offer lots of support. The fact that that it was there and that my daughters had somewhere to go if they needed to talk to somebody was reassuring for me. I knew it was there. And of course, there is a chance the cancer is hereditary.”

Rebecca underwent a full mastectomy and axillary clearance, which means lymph glands in her armpit were removed.

Since 2008, Rebecca has done a skydive, held auctions, taken part in the Starlight Walk with fellow relatives and raised more than £10,000 with their help for a tribute on Prospect’s Bluebell Walk.

But The Big Swim at Bowmoor Sailing Club in Lechlade on July 12 will be one of her most physical challenges to date for the charity.

“I have not done anything like this before,” she said. “I thought I was a good swimmer and went to the open water in South Cerney and realised that I needed to do a bit more training. It’s a reasonable distance – 1.2km – but it’s completely different from doing it in a swimming pool. But I feel that if it was something I could just do it wouldn’t be a challenge.

“I will be thinking of my mum on the day and I’ve even got a waterproof MP3 player with music that drove us both wild, like Frankie Vaughan. It will spur me on.

She added: “It’s something I want to do for Prospect. Using Prospect is something that crossed my mind last year and you never know when you are going to need it. I just want to make sure it’s there for the people who need it.”

Rebecca is hoping to raise £300. To sponsor her visit www.justgiving.com/Rebecca-Rowland1.

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