Cancer survivors’ aim is to inspire others

Cancer survivors and multisport athletes Deanna Blegg (left) and Frankie Sanders  are part of a...
Cancer survivors and multisport athletes Deanna Blegg (left) and Frankie Sanders are part of a team of women who have fought cancer competing in GODZone next month. They are pictured competing in last month’s Red Bull Defiance. Photo: Supplied
Four female multisport athletes and cancer sufferers have come together from around New Zealand and Australia to compete in GODZone in Fiordland next month to inspire others  undergoing treatment.

Team Women Beyond Cancer, spearheaded by Lake Hawea woman Frankie Sanders, plan to show that anything is possible following chemotherapy.

Ms Sanders will be joined by Shanel Murray, of Hawke’s Bay,  and Melbourne’s Deanna Blegg and Lesa Muir.

All have a strong background in multisport, are in their late 30s and 40s, and have had some form of cancer in the last decade.

Grade 3 breast cancer stopped compulsive outdoorswoman Ms Sanders in her tracks in mid-2015, and led to 14 months of chemotherapy.

She explained how chemotherapy was a "dark place" and could make people think they would simply "sit down and never get back up again".

"It’s quite a dark place to be; it’s not fun in any way. It’s quite traumatic and it’s quite easy to be sucked into the cancer zone, where it seems inescapable. So to know that you can go past it and have a moment where an inspiring person shows you that this isn’t the end."

A passionate sportswoman, Ms Sanders said her fitness "defined" her and she has slowly been working towards  GODZone for several months.Training had been more difficult  since her cancer treatment,  she said.

"As soon as you finish chemotherapy you have all this desire to go out and train really hard and the recovery just doesn’t allow it. You have to be purposeful and mindful in how much you train, how often you train, what you eat, how you recover. All those things you took for granted before, you become much more conscious of."

She said those components were very much a part of the team’s race tactics.

The goal was to finish, Ms Sanders said, and stressed the whole idea was to be "super inspirational".

"The aim is to inspire and to prove that you can do anything. We take on the biggest thing we can possibly think of which is GODZone, and getting through it will show people that you can do anything if you really try."

The team will be together in one place for the first time only two days before the race on March 1, although they had been in contact via Skype for some months.

If all went well, Ms Sanders said it could become an annual event for the team.

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