“CANCER, we’re coming to get you!”
That was the rallying cry from 7,000 women who descended on Heaton Park last Sunday determined to show cancer who was the boss.
The park was awash with pink for two Race for Life events — a 5km and 10km run in aid of Cancer Research UK.
Women from the borough and beyond gathered to walk, jog or run the course in honour of those currently fighting cancer, in celebration of surviving the disease or in memory of loved ones passed.
All had one aim: to give hope to a cancer-free future and to raise as much money as possible for Cancer Research UK.
Breast cancer survivor PC Linda Gavin, an officer in Farnworth, Bolton, was guest of honour at the 11am event and joined in the countdown before sounding the starting horn.
Radcliffe mum-of-two Linda, aged 43, underwent a partial mastectomy after being diagnosed with the disease, aged 34, in 2005 and has already raised more than £600 for Cancer Research UK this year.
Linda said: “Today has just been amazing and I feel so honoured to have set the participants on their way.
“When I was diagnosed with cancer it felt like the end of the world but taking part in Race for Life is such a wonderful way to fight back and celebrate my recovery.”
Guest of honour for the 2.30pm event was Dawn Craddock, aged 37, who is currently fighting breast cancer for the second time.
The Heywood mum discovered a lump in her breast while she was weaning her baby daughter Rachel, who was aged just one at the time.
With 3,500 women and girls taking part in each of the Heaton Park runs, Race for Life is the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK.
Tottington mum-of-two Kathryn Omerod, aged 31, was part of a gang of Tottington Primary School mums who completed the course together.
Kathryn, of Calderwood Close, said: “Two mums are bravely fighting cancer at school and we just felt we needed to do something to show our support.”
Friends Clair Brown, aged 21, and 19-year-old Amber Collinge also took part for the first time in memory of those they had lost.
Clair, from Little Hulton, Salford, said: “I lost my grandmother to cancer, which was my motivation for taking part.
“I persuaded my friend Amber to take part as she has lost both her great-grandfather and grandfather to the disease.
“It just affects so many people.”
Five-year-old Molly Cockerill from Rochdale completed the event with her mum Colleen Baxter, aged 38, in tribute to Colleen’s mother-in-law who died of cancer in May.
Colleen said: “It is Molly’s birthday today which makes the event even more special.
“We have never taken part before but have been so excited about being able to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
Cancer Research UK event manager Laura Taylor said the Heaton Park runs had been the “most fantastic ever”.
Laura said: “The atmosphere was incredible and we were bowled over by the support of the women who worked so hard walking or running in the intense heat.
“Cancer Research UK receives no Government funding so I would urge all 7000 participants to ensure they return their sponsorship money as soon as possible to help us cure all forms of cancer.”