Mum and daughter join Barnstaple Race for Life

North Devon duo who have dealt with breast cancer continue fund raising efforts to help others at charity race for Cancer Research UK.

A North Devon mother and daughter who have both suffered from breast cancer are taking part in the annual Barnstaple Race for Life on July 10 in their determination to help defeat the disease.

Kelly Olde from Hartland was 29 and pregnant when told she had breast cancer in 2007 and a year later her mum Sheila was also diagnosed.

Both were treated but in 2009 it was found Sheila had stomach cancer and then last October the breast cancer returned – but mother and daughter are positive and focussed on fund raising for Cancer Research UK as well as North Devon Hospice.

Their Hartland committee has collected around �120,000 and on Sunday, July 10 they will be joining as many as 2,000 entrants for the five kilometre Barnstaple Race for Life, which sets off from Seven Brethren at 11am.

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Kelly was more than seven months pregnant with son William when she found a suspicious lump, but was determined to give birth safely before undergoing treatment.

“I wasn’t too worried when I first found the lump, said Kelly. “I thought I’m young, I’m healthy and pregnant – it can’t be cancer but then it began to grow rather quickly,” she said.

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Less than three weeks after her son was born, Kelly opted to have a mastectomy, knowing the lump had grown quickly and there followed six months of gruelling chemotherapy and then three weeks of radiotherapy.

“I feel it is extremely important to raise awareness of cancer research and to raise funds so further research can be carried out,” she added.

“The charity relies on public donations and without these I may not have seen my son grow up.

“Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival rates double in the last 40 years. Anything I can do to make sure fewer people go through the pain of losing a loved one I will do.”

Kelly underwent reconstruction surgery in March 2009 following treatment. Last year she had a second mastectomy breast and a full reconstruction after being told she had the BRCA1 gene, which increases the risk of other cancers.

While she was going through treatment, mum Sheila Arkless, 57, was a tower of support for Kelly and baby William, helping to look after them whilst Kelly’s husband worked on the family farm.

Last year Barnstaple Race for Life saw 2,036 entrants, who raised �99,635, while 1,044 are already signed up for this year and it is hoped more will join their ranks.

“We are so grateful to Kelly and Sheila for taking part in Race for Life and raising funds for vital research into cancer,” said event manager Kate Shimmell.

“Their story is one which will hopefully inspire others in knowing we cannot rest until we find further treatments and research into this terrible disease.”

To enter the Barnstaple Race for Life, call 0871 641 1111 or visit

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