A woman from Camberwell is preparing to run the Royal Half Parks Marathon in October, after a long battle with cervical cancer, Simon Throssell writes …
Recalling her cancer diagnosis, Gem Sofianos, 31, said: “I went for a routine smear test in May 2015, when a week or so later I received a phone call from my GP telling me they had found abnormal cells.”
Two weeks after undergoing a biopsy, Gem was sat with her Mum in the corridors of her local hospital when she heard the five words she believes will be forever etched in her mind: ‘We found some cancer cells.’
Much to her relief, she was told that after a successful trachelectomoy operation in late 2015, which removed the cancer and part of her cervix, she was cancer free.
Since then Gem has started regaining her fitness, completing the Cancer Research Winter Run in which she managed to raise over £600 for the Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust – a London-based charity dedicated to women affected by cervical cancer and cervical abnormalities.
Talking about her pre-marathon training, Gem said: “I’m starting from scratch again and building up slowly, starting with a couple of runs a week.
“Having a charity that you care about helps so much, it makes it easier when the training or run gets tough.”
Gem not only wants to complete the Royal Parks Half Marathon, happening on Sunday, October 14, in a fast time but also wants to use her experience to show women just how important it is to have and to attend smear tests.
She said: “Smear test attendance rates are at a twenty-year low.
“It takes minutes, and while I know it can be uncomfortable and undignified, it saves lives … it saved my life.”
Gem is hoping to raise £500 for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
To donate, visit her fundraising page below: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/gems-royalparkshalf