Virginia Beckett is 52 and lives in Glasgow. She has been through breast cancer and a partial mastectomy. She has started a new job and is cycling Dulux London Revolution in 2018 as part of her quest to get fit again.
When were you first diagnosed with cancer?
I was diagnosed in March 2016. I had a partial mastectomy in May that year followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy. My treatment finished in December that year. I had a minor further operation in August 2017 and a one-year post-cancer clear mammogram in June 2017 which, as you can imagine, was an important milestone.
I was a keen cyclist before my diagnosis and my surgeon got so bored of me asking whether I could go back on my bike that I think he eventually capitulated just to get rid of me! I cycled during my chemo treatment. I just avoided the weeks when I was at my worst. I felt that the fresh air and exercise gave me a great boost, and where possible I took the opportunity while I was off work to travel around Scotland to cycle to places like Aviemore and the islands of Colonsay, Islay.
I actually found that although it seemed innocuous at the time, the radiotherapy had a greater impact on my energy for cycling than the chemo did.
Can you tell me a bit more about deciding to get fit?
My desire to get fit is more about getting fit again. In addition to the obvious impacts of chemo and radiotherapy, the long-term use of Letrazole (which is like Tamoxifen) and the impact of the operation mean that my joints tend to be painful and I am less flexible than I was. I am not prepared to accept that as a long-term situation and I know that exercise is the key. I like to combine cycling with yoga for all-round fitness and flexibility.
Why cycling? What does it do for you now?
I used to run to keep fit and lose weight and although I always wanted to enjoy it I never quite got there. Then I found cycling and realised I could get fit and lose weight in the company of friends and enjoy a day in the fresh air in the beautiful Scottish countryside.
Had you done any sport before?
I used to be a ski racer in my teens and twenties but gave up when I started work full time after graduating from university. I was used to having to train to keep fit for skiing so am used to the discipline needed to keep going when it gets tough. Much of my skiing was in Scotland and that is tough in itself!