‘Running keeps me going’: Meet the woman with an incurable cancer and a passion for exercise

Sue Rourke on the run'Picture: Habibur Rahman
Sue Rourke on the run'Picture: Habibur Rahman
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A FORMER nurse is running her way through an incurable cancer diagnosis - urging others to join her in a bid to support people with the disease.

Married mum-of-one Sue Rourke, 46, from Lee-on-the-Solent, was told this month her kidney cancer had spread to muscles in her back and ribs.

She was first diagnosed with the cancer in November 2018 and had hoped having surgery to have her kidney removed would stop it in its tracks.

But Sue, a lecturer at the University of Portsmouth, is determined to show running can keep cancer sufferers fit and healthy  and provide a way to cope with having the disease.

Sue said: ‘I had suspected that it would come back, but didn’t expect it to happen so quickly.

‘It’s hard enough to be told you have cancer – to hear that it is incurable is absolutely devastating.

‘My family and friends were all quite shocked. You can’t prepare people for it so it’s hard for them and difficult to tell people, knowing that they are going to be upset.

Sue said that it would be easy for people with an incurable cancer to shy away from being out and about – but this is what keeps her going.

The former QA Hospital nurse is a huge fan of doing parkruns, and is determined to keep getting out and doing as much as she can.

She said: ‘I’ve been doing parkruns for a few years now – there’s a great sense of community that comes with it.

‘When I was first diagnosed I knew that it would impact my fitness, but wanted to keep running as much as I could.

‘For me, it’s a huge focal point and it’s one of the things that keeps me going. I want people to know that they can still be active and healthy with cancer or any other life-limiting illness.’

Now Sue is urging other people with life-limiting illnesses to get outside and enjoy the benefits of running.

On March 30, she has organised a 5k run, in association with national initiative 5k Your Way.

She said: ‘I’ve lived a very fulfilled life.

‘I’ve done so many amazing things and have a loving family, caring friends – everything I could possibly ask for.

‘Now I want to show other people that they can achieve amazing things, no matter what they are going through.’

Becky Garnett, 28 from Horndean, has been friends with Sue for 13 years, meeting through a shared love of musicals.

Becky said: ‘Sue has been so positive and so brave throughout it all.

‘She faces every challenge head on and always wants to do good things for others – that really shines through and you can see why she was such a good nurse and lecturer.

‘Sue encourages people and helps them to achieve things that they might not have believed were possible. I am really hoping that the 5k Your Way event is a success because it would be great to get people who otherwise might avoid exercise to get involved and enjoy parkruns like we do.’

For more information about the event email lots.5kyourway@gmail.com.