8th March 2022

Penny’s fundraising story

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Penny Nash, from Hampshire, has been fundraising for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for several years. She certainly loves a challenge; from running the London Marathon in 2019 to swimming in open water. And on 29th May 2022, she will be taking on a new 100-mile challenge on two wheels, all in memory of her dear mother, Janet.  

Ahead of Mother’s Day 2022, Penny shares memories of her mum and her reasons for fundraising.

“As a child, I was a keen swimmer. Mum would take me training 3x per week and was both the treasurer of the swimming club and team manager. In my 40s I accidentally took up running as a friend ran the London Marathon and I decided I wanted to as well!”

“Following this, I went back to swim training and began open water swimming. Then I figured if I was doing two sports, I might as well start cycling too and do a triathlon. 

The only problem was the fact I hate cycling. I am dyspraxic so have no balance, don’t know my left from my right and for the life of me, I cannot remember what gear on the bike does what. All of this makes cycling extremely challenging. I’ve also got to get out of the habit of screaming and closing my eyes when I go downhill – the air turns a little blue at that point! 

Why then am I doing RideLondon? Well, I guess I love a challenge. I’m running my first ever ultra-marathon two weeks before the race and then in September, I’m rewarding myself with an 11-mile swim at Lake Windermere. All of these, along with a 100km walk, will be for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.”

None of these challenges will be easy, but none of them will be as challenging as experiencing cancer or watching the person you love most in the world go through lung cancer.

Mum’s lung cancer

“My mum was my best friend. She developed breast cancer in 1988 and went on to be in remission. Then in January 1993, she started to struggle with breathlessness when swimming and so she visited the doctor. At this point, I was now married and living away, so mum had to phone me to tell me of her lung cancer diagnosis.

I visited her often over the next few months and later found out I was expecting my first child. Mum wanted to be at the birth as she said she wasn’t there for the birth of any of her children, she’d had three caesareans with my siblings and I – so understandably she was ‘knocked out’ for them all.

Mum was going to be my birthing partner, we had it all planned. She told me ‘Roy Castle says cancer is a word, not a sentence.’  She used him as an example of somebody who had won against lung cancer. We held on to the belief that she too would win and sadly that didn’t happen. On 20th October 1993, my mum died. She never got to meet any of her grandchildren. 

It was soon after that that Roy Castle announced his lung cancer had returned and he later passed away. My mum held on tight to Roy’s words. Cancer wasn’t a life sentence. It was just a word to name a nasty disease.”

My fundraising

“When my running buddy, Shona, was ready to run her first marathon, we both applied for a charity place with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. She too had lost her mum to lung cancer, so it was the only charity that we wanted to run for together. We were lucky enough to be chosen and ran the London Marathon as Roy’s Runners in 2019, and I’ve been raising money ever since.

I have started swim training and run training to build up my stamina. I had Covid in December which has left me struggling slightly. My fear of cycling had prevented me from getting on the bike until last month but as the RideLondon challenge gets closer, I really do have to conquer my fear and up my fitness. 

My mum and dad raised me to love, laugh, and face challenges the world throws at me. Mum was a shining example of all of that. It is in her honour that I do these things and continue to fundraise for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.” 

To show your support to Penny, visit her JustGiving page here.