Losing her husband to a brain haemorrhage and then beating breast cancer made Audrey Oldham realise life is all too short.
And the 54-year-old is now encouraging others to take up a new challenge after taking up running and also learning to ski and scuba dive.
Audrey, from Farleton, reconnected with running at the end of 2015 following an eight-year gap.
Losing her husband Glen, a detective with Lancaster police, unexpectedly in 2010 to a brain haemorrhage led Audrey to embrace everything that came her way, taking her on a series of adventures and raising more than £50,000 for charity in the process.
However, this was followed by Audrey’s own diagnosis of breast cancer in 2012. Between October and May 2013, Audrey underwent a mastectomy, three operations, several infections, and then chemotherapy.
“It was a bit of a shock because I had no symptoms and there was no family history,” she said.
Audrey is now in remission and in 2015 she began exercising properly again, in a bid to lose the weight she gained during her illness.
And in eight months, Audrey lost more than three stone in weight and completed a half marathon, but by summer 2016, her training had faltered and she struggled to identify where she was going wrong.
Lacking confidence, Audrey had always steered clear of running clubs as she felt intimidated by the faster runners.
However, through social media she was made aware of Louise Goddard, who ran a local group called RunTogether LegItLancaster.
She said: “I attended Louise’s free sessions in the park on Sunday afternoons and it was a positive and encouraging atmosphere and that gave me the confidence to try more sessions.
“Even though I’m always running at the back I don’t mind as everyone is incredibly supportive, making for an inclusive and relaxing exercise environment.”
Louise said: “RunTogether LegItLancaster aims to encourage people just like Audrey to take up running and enjoy its benefits in a comfortable and welcoming environment that caters for all abilities. I am very proud of my runners, some of whom have gone from 0-26.2 miles within two years.”
Audrey is now determined to make the most of life.
She said: “One thing I say to all my friends now is not to put anything off – life is too short, just go for it! Glen and I always talked about what we would do when we retired and he never got to retire so now I feel like life is for living.
“I am always looking for new things to try. I will never say that I can’t do something. I have been through quite a bit recently but I won’t let it define who I am – it’s given me the power to do things.”