A RUN in the park is helping to provide a lifeline for a mum diagnosed with breast cancer.
Weekly runs in Silksworth, and the friendships it helps to forge, have helped Jo New, 39, as she undergoes gruelling chemotherapy treatment.
So much so, that she and three friends have joined forces to form running group Team Tortoise.
Mum-of-two Jo, from High Barnes, joined the weekly free 5k Parkrun at Silksworth Sports Complex last year where she met future team members Katherine Daley, Emma Robson and Michelle Mustard.
Despite being diagnosed with cancer in March after finding a lump in her breast, she was determined to continue her hobby.
She said: “I’ve had five sessions of chemotherapy so far. I can’t run the next day after a session but I try and get along as much as possible. Even if I can’t run it’s great to catch up with the girls. I do think the runs have helped a lot. You’ve got to keep yourself focused otherwise you’d sit in the house and go mad.”
Jo, who works for Student Finance England, has one more chemotherapy session left before she embarks on three weeks of radiotherapy at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital.
She said: “I’ve had a couple of sessions where I couldn’t focus on anything other than bed, but I think everyone copes with the treatment differently. I’m definitely going to keep up the running.”
The weekly runs, which take place on Saturdays, are implemented by University Sport Sunderland as a means for students, staff and the wider community to come together and put their best foot forward.
The runs rely on the help of volunteers and on October 8 Team Tortoise will marshall the run before heading up to Kielder to take part in a 10k race.
Team Tortoise member Katherine, 27, from Thorney Close said: “We all enjoyed the Sunderland 10K event in the summer and wanted to take part in another. None of us are the fastest or strongest runners and so have formed our own team for the day, Team Tortoise.
“Despite undergoing chemotherapy Jo has continued to keep up the running with a smile on her face and is the most amazing woman I’ve met and wouldn’t have without Parkrun.
“Parkrun is a fantastic, fun and free way to get into running, no matter what your level of fitness and is a great way to meet new friends. The hardest part is getting out of bed on a Saturday morning, but it’s worth it and a great way to start your weekend.”
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