Mother with terminal cancer finishes half marathon

Photo credit: Rebecca Griffiths

On 5th August 2014, Rebecca Griffiths was diagnosed with inoperable liver and bowel cancer. Doctors gave her three months to live.

Griffiths, 33, is a police officer and mother of two sons. For more than a year, she’s undergone chemotherapy - one week on, one week off. 

Last May, scans showed the treatment was working. Her tumours started to shrink. Griffiths had more time, which meant she could plan for things in the future. So, she signed up for the Great Eastern Run Half Marathon - scheduled five months away. 

In the midst of training, Griffiths started “Team Bex,” signing up her friends, nurses and colleagues to raise money for the cancer facility in her local hospital. 

On 11th October, clad in bright pink shirts, more than 300 members of Team Bex formed a gauntlet near the finish line in Peterborough. Next to her sister and father, Griffiths jogged through the cheering crowd, completing the half marathon in 3:02:31. Team Bex raised more than £27,000 for the Hunts Community Cancer Network, an organisation that provides in-home care to cancer patients.

“It was brilliant,” Griffiths said. “It was a sea of pink.”

Griffiths was the last of her charity team to finish the race, a fact that makes her proud because most of the members of Team Bex had not completed a half marathon before.

“This whole thing isn’t bad if I got 300 people addicted to running,” she said.

Griffiths struggled the last three miles of the race, but she embraced the burn in her lungs and legs. “It was just lovely to feel tired because I was tired,” she said. Not because she had terminal cancer or because she had been on a chemo regimen for the past year, but because she was 10 miles into running a half marathon. 

On the Tuesday before the race, Griffiths received the latest scan of her abdomen. The tumours in her liver had shrunk by four centimetres. She isn’t cured, but she said the treatment keeps buying her more time. 

With that time, she’s already planning for the future. “I still only like to plan three months in advance because things can change quite dramatically,” she said.

But she has made one exception. One week after finishing the half marathon, she signed up for a six-mile obstacle run. The race is next April.