When it comes to triathlons it's fair to say people are often daunted by the prospect of completing not one, not two, but three sports in one go. But 65 year old Jennifer doesn't see it that way. Finishing a swim, run and cycle only makes Jennifer feel stronger.
Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2012, Jennifer used sport as part of her recovery process, although it wasn't entirely easy getting back into all three activities. Jennifer underwent two lots of surgery as part of her treatment in the August and September of 2012. Determined to get active again, Jennifer was soon out walking as well as cycling (her method of transport). However, getting back into the pool was quite a different story.
After her surgery, Jennifer was anxious at the prospect of getting back into the pool, and a swimming costume. After some helpful advice and finding an affordable post-surgery swimming costime online from Asda Jennifer was soon back in the water, putting her embarrasment aside. She now swims regularly twice a week.
So, why compete in this year's triathlon? Jennifer explains she has three motivations for competing in this year's event, firstly for the benefits of her own health. She explains aiming for the triathlon and reaching for a goal helps her keep going, helps her feel she is working towards something. Her second reason is to raise money for the local charity CancerCare as she is so grateful for the support they provided her during her recovery.
Californian born Jennifer began therapy with CancerCare in the autumn of 2012. The first thing she explains was how the setting felt like a home.
"It was warm, welcoming and had beautiful gardens", she described. Jennifer pointed out that CancerCare helped normalise her recovery, and having access to the free therapy was a huge help. She especially benefited from aromatherapy sessions and counselling sessions. Now Jennifer wants to give something back to CancerCare, this providing her with further motivation to complete the triathlon.
CancerCare specialises in providing support to people affected by cancer in North Lancashire, South Lakeland and the Furness penisular. The charity has to generate one million pounds each year to provide their range of free services for local families, which include professional counselling and support for children and young people. The money is raised almost entirely through donations and fundraising events.
Jennifer's third motivation for competing in this year's event, and arguably the most important, is to encourage others to complete something they may doubt they can acheive. Being an unlikely candidate for the triathlon herself, Jennifer explains how anyone can acheive anything they want to, it's about your own personal journey. Jennifer's top tip is to turn can'ts into cans, ask yourself, "What can I do?"
"This is your own personal journey, if you need to rest you can rest, but at the end you feel like an Olympic champion".
To find out more about Jennifer's story and to sponser her fundraising for CancerCare please click here.
If you feel inspired by Jennifer's story to try-a-tri, find out more about Lancaster University's Triathlon by clicking here.