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Sunday, 5 January, 2003, 10:39 GMT
Q&A: Jane Tomlinson
Helen Rollason award-winning runner Jane Tomlinson answers your e-mails.
Millions of television viewers watched the mother-of-three from Rothwell, Leeds, tearfully accept the Helen Rollason Award.
Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer 12 years ago, and was told in 2000 that it had spread, and was incurable.
She won the award for courage in the face of adversity, having completed the London Marathon, a triathlon and the Great North Run in 2002.
Since being diagnosed, Jane and her husband Mike have raised £110,000 for Cancer Research UK.
She answers a selection of your questions below.
Michael May, England
I would like to ask Jane how her treatment is progressing and what plans she has for 2003?
Following the Great North Run I started chemotherapy, I'm currently having chemotherapy on a weekly basis, as well as some treatment that I was already receiving.
It's really taken me until the end of December to actually start to feel well, as my health was deteriorating rapidly. But I'm currently starting to feel slightly fitter and am able to get out and run comfortably again. So I'm just doing some small local events. There is a fund-raising event in March 2003, but it's too early to say any more than that, really.
You completed three big events last year; it must have been incredibly hard to keep up with your training regime whilst receiving treatment.
It's just allowing your body to adjust to the treatment, to give yourself time to get used to it. Although I was receiving treatment last year I wasn't receiving chemotherapy as such, and the treatment I've been having since October has taken quite a long time to adjust to.
Which sports stars do you admire most?
That's really difficult! There's Paula Craig, the triathlete. She was paralysed following an accident while out training, and she completed the London Marathon last year. Somebody like that is just astounding. People like Paula Radcliffe - what an exceptional sports woman. And Tanni Grey-Thompson for sheer determination.
But I think, for me, Lance Armstrong has got to be a real hero. Above anybody else, he shows that if you want it enough you can go out and get it. And if anybody could make me believe in miracles, it would be Lance Armstrong.
He went through cancer as well...
Yes, he had a very, very narrow chance of survival, but he has managed not just to come back from cancer, but come back and win the Tour de France for the last four times. What an exceptional sportsman, and what a shining example.
And how do you feel about being a shining example yourself, and an inspiration to other people?
It's a bit strange, as I don't feel any different to this time last year, when I was just going out and plodding the miles. So for people to think "oh wow, how can she do that", well, it's really just getting up and taking each day as it comes, and trying to keep yourself well enough to cope with family life - that's all I've been doing this year.
Stephanie Burns, Crawley
How have your children reacted to the media coverage you have been getting recently?
There's been a lot of media attention for the whole of this year, I think people in the Yorkshire region will probably know my face, but outside the region I wasn't as well known, until after I'd done the Great North Run, so it's been a gradual media build-up for the family.
We've just tried to keep quite private, apart from doing the media work for the fund-raising. If we're to do media work, it's to help with the profile of Cancer Research UK, and that's how we've managed it. But it has been quite difficult, and the children are incredibly adult about it, especially the older two, they've been very grown up about it.
But alongside the intrusion side of things, there have been some wonderful experiences that we wouldn't have had without the media attention. So, there's highs and lows to it, but on the whole, it has mostly been positive!
It's obviously played a large part in publicising the fund-raising work - and you've now raised over £100,000 for Cancer Research.
That's correct, I think it's over £110,00 now, and I'm just staggered how people have responded. It's so nice to get such a positive response from the public - and that's mostly from private donations.
And how did you get involved with Cancer Research UK specifically?
Well, in 2001 I took part in my first Race for Life, which was for Imperial Cancer Research, which then amalgamated with the Cancer Research campaign, to become Cancer Reserach UK. So when I was looking for a marathon place, I contacted them.
So that's I came to get involved with them, but I know they fund research at the hospital as well, and it was quite important for me to put something back, for all the good I had got for myself.
Laura Nettles, Southampton
What was the best part about the Sports Personality night?
Just everything! I didn't know I was going to get an award, so that was a huge shock! The whole night was so strange, because it feels like it was somebody else's life anyway, it doesn't feel particularly like it belongs to me - so it was nice, because you could just stand back and see the whole of it. And it is something I would never have experienced if I hadn't done this year.
It was just a fabulous night, meeting so many people. I've met Paula Radcliffe on one other occasion, but it was just getting the opportunity to meet people that have been icons in my life, it was just fabulous.
Sheila B, Merseyside
I would like to ask if Jane ever feels sorry for herself?
Well, I think in the same way that anyone else might do, there's always off days! But I tend to find that if you wake up and you're miserable, and you take that sadness with you, that the pains that I do have from the disease can be overwhelming.
So it's a lot easier to get up and be positive and get on with things, rather than concentrate on the less happy aspects of my life.
Do you find that, in a way, you get impatient with other people's petty moans?
Well, certainly people have said that I've calmed down slightly; you do tend to think, "well, it's really not worth getting upset about that". And when you see people getting very irate about things that are out of their control, I don't understand that at all.
I understand anger when you can use it to change something; but when all you're doing is being angry, the only person who it is detrimental to is yourself. So, don't get angry - try to solve it!
Is your biggest achievement to date on a personal, professional or sporting level?
I think that I've achieved so much in the last year that it is difficult to separate them out. Professionally, I've passed a post-graduate certificate in paediatric medical imaging practices, one of the first people in the country to do so. So professionally, I've done something that I'm very proud of.
Sporting-wise, all of the three events that I've managed to do have been very trying. It has been fantastic to be able to take part in them, and I've really enjoyed them.
But I think the highlight, after being told I was out of remission in January, to get to Christmas and be well enough to enjoy Christmas with my family was probably the biggest thing for me this year.
Rebecca Daly, Lancashire
What was harder, the triathlon or the marathon?
They were hard in different ways. The marathon is very hard, and very repetitive - you just have to keep going. But it didn't take me too long to recover from it. The triathlon was difficult because of it being a multi-discipline event, so it took me a long time to recover, as you push yourself to the limit.
Afterwards, it took me three-four weeks to recover from it. I couldn't really say which one was the hardest - and they're both hard to train for, in different ways. They're both very difficult.
And on behalf of the readers of the site, all the best with your treatment, and for 2003.
Thank you very much.
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