Inspirational Molly Fuchs is attempting to swim 100 miles for charity despite being diagnosed with incurable cancer. Molly, 56, is supported by the expert community team at Sue Ryder Manorlands Hospice and will be raising crucial funds for the hospice with her ‘final fundraiser’. Molly and her friends will be clocking up the ‘Molly miles’ at Coniston Hotel Country Estate and Spa over the next few months and she hopes to finish her challenge in the summer.
“I did rather underestimate how far 100 miles is - the pool is 15m and a mile is 108 laps!” Molly said. “But I will just keep going for as long as it takes. People know that I finish what I start.”
But Molly’s friends and supporters are determined to help Molly on her way to her target and staff at the spa have volunteered to swim a ‘Molly mile’ along with some of her fellow swimmers and friends.
Molly, from Settle, was originally diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015 when she turned 50. Despite having no obvious symptoms, she had a family history of breast cancer so she went along to a drop-in clinic. She said: “I had the mammogram. Then they said they needed to do an ultrasound, then a biopsy. Then they told me I had cancer. I went through surgery, chemo and radiotherapy. It all finished in 2016 and then I was back running and raising money. I organised a ball that raised £4,000. I just felt so very lucky.”
But, in 2020, Molly found out the cancer had returned. After going to her GP for unrelated tests she was told the cancer had spread to the bones in her pelvis.
“I found out on the phone when I was out running during lockdown. It was quite a shock and I had a lot of different emotions. You go from feeling fairly normal one day and not really thinking about it to suddenly being in a really bad place. That’s why it’s been so great to have a really good healthcare team around me.
“When it got to a point where I was in a lot of pain the doctors put me in touch with Sue Ryder Manorlands and I was assigned Vicki, a palliative care nurse. Vicki came out to see me at home initially and we have kept in touch with telephone calls through the Covid pandemic. I know I can call her if I need anything and sometimes she just listens to me when I need a cry. She has just been so good.
“I know that Manorlands is going to be there for me through my whole journey, the good and the bad, which is so reassuring. It’s very hard for people seeing you go through it because they feel so helpless and the problem with secondary breast cancer is people think you are going to be cured because you have beaten it the first time.”
Vicki has also helped Molly to talk about her wishes and made sure that everyone involved in her care is aware of what she wants. “I know that living in the area I do means that I have been really lucky in the support and treatment I have had and I’m very grateful to everybody.
“Vicki has talked to me about what I want and it means I have been able to put things in place. I know with Sue Ryder Manorlands I will have an ongoing need for their help and I know that when it comes to it I would like to go to the hospice.”
With the help of Cancer Support Yorkshire Molly has also been able to reduce the hours she works as a travel agent. She said: “When it gets to the point where I can’t work I will have to give it up but for the moment I want to be as normal as possible. Going swimming gives me that normality too. When I’m in the pool swimming nobody sees that I’m anything other than a normal person in a swim suit. I’m a bit slow at doing things and I can’t walk far now but swimming I can manage and I just go as slowly as I need to. Obviously I’d rather be in the hot tub though!”
Molly has always been a big fundraiser and has previously completed both the London Marathon and the Great North Run. She was training for the virtual Great North Run when she found out her cancer had returned. She said: “I really hated running! I used to say people would sponsor me because they knew how much I hated it but I met some absolutely fantastic people through running.
“When I got the secondary cancer diagnosis I was told I couldn’t do anything – even swimming – but my doctor eventually said I was allowed to swim again so long as the pool had Roman steps which has given me an opportunity to give back to Sue Ryder and Cancer Support Yorkshire. This will be my final fundraiser because I just don’t know if I’ll be well enough next year.”
Molly is determined to make the most of the time she has left and with the help of her friends is starting to fulfil some long-held ambitions. “While I’m here I’m going to try and do as many things as I can,” she said.
“I set up a blog when I was first diagnosed and I’ve picked it up again since my second diagnosis. I’ve put together a list of things I want to achieve. I had always wanted to plant a tree so my friend arranged for me to plant a beautiful oak tree – called Cedric – in the woods. Another friend organised for me to have a zookeeper experience for a day at South Lakes Zoo in Cumbria and I got to see the white rhino which was just lovely.
“One of my doctors told me to embrace each day and don’t try to look too far forward so I try to follow that advice. And that’s where Manorlands has been so reassuring.”
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