A cancer patient who could not run a half-marathon three years ago because of the disease will attempt it this year to raise money so more women can benefit from the screening which saved her.
Gem Sofianos, 31, from Camberwell, will be running the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October to raise £500 for Jo’s Cervical Trust.
She said: “I hope that I can raise as much money as possible for Jo’s Cervical Trust. “Having a charity that you care about helps so much, it makes it easier when the training or run gets tough.”
Ms Sofianos, pictured, went for a routine smear test in May 2015, her second one at the age of 28, and a week later received a phone call from her GP saying the lab had found abnormal cells.
“I was totally unprepared for the call and was taken aback, especially as it was about 7.30am in the morning,” she said. “I immediately knew that something was wrong as everything became a rush. I was invited in to my local hospital for a colposcopy to have a closer look, then a biopsy was scheduled smack bang in the middle of a best friend’s hen do abroad, which I had to miss as they wanted it to be done as soon as possible.
“Two weeks after the biopsy passed, and I actually started to allow myself to think that they would have contacted me sooner if something wasn’t right. But that wasn’t the case.
“Hearing the words I’d been dreading, but in a strange way expecting – ‘we found some cancer cells’ – will be forever etched in my mind.
“I was young, fit and healthy and hadn’t experienced any symptoms, and had a previous clear smear test three years earlier.
“But I was sitting in a bleak hospital room being told I had cervical cancer. My mum had come with me to the appointment and we just stared at each other in shocked silence. It was a hell of a lot to take in.”
Ms Sofianos had a trachelectomy, which removed the cancer and part of the cervix, but allowed enough cervix to remain for a stitch to be inserted so she can still have children. She also had her lymph nodes removed from her abdomen and pelvis as a precaution even though the cancer had not spread.
“It took me about six weeks to recover, after which I had a follow-up appointment about three weeks later where, much to my relief, I was told I was cancer free,” she said.
Five months after her operation, Ms Sofianos took part in the Cancer Research Winter Run with her boyfriend, and managed to raise more than £600.
And now having been cancer free for two-and-a-half years, Ms Sofianos is determined to get back to peak fitness after struggling slightly with some minor side effects from her operation.
She hopes to continue to raise money and awareness about cervical cancer at the Royal Parks Half Marathon this October.
“I’m starting from scratch again and building up my training slowly, starting with a couple of runs a week,” said Ms Sofianos. “I just want to complete it in a fast time and I’m hoping to finish between two-and-a-half and three hours. I hope that I can raise as much money as possible for Jo’s Cervical Trust at the same time.
“I just want to use my experiences to show women why it’s so important to attend smear tests. It takes minutes, and while I know it can be uncomfortable and undignified, it saves lives.
“Smear test attendance rates are at a 20-year low and I hope through my fundraising that I can highlight how important it is not to miss routine tests and how it saved my life.”
The Royal Parks Half Marathon takes place on Sunday, October 14. To find a charity place for the Half Marathon visit www.royalparkshalf.com/charities-list/.
To donate visit Ms Sofianos‘ fundraising page at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/gems-royalparks half.
Jamie Stevens Salon from Clapham has scooped the L’Oréal Colour Trophy London Award 2018 – at one of the hairdressing industry’s most prestigious events, the 2018 L’Oréal Colour Trophy Grand Final.
On Monday, June 4 the salon’s creative six-month journey came to a dramatic finale at Battersea Evolution.
More than 1,000 of the hairdressing industry’s most acclaimed and famous figures filled the dazzling venue with immense applause as Jamie Stevens Salon rushed to the stage to collect their iconic award – The L’Oréal Colour Trophy. TV & radio presenter Reggie Yates and Dylan Bradshaw, from Dylan Bradshaw Ireland, and Siobhan Jones from Headmasters handed the team their award during a moment they will never forget.
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