Survivor Heather Duff’s 30 challenges for Cancer Research UK

Heather Duff (and dog Parsnip) Picture: Lesley Martin
Heather Duff (and dog Parsnip) Picture: Lesley Martin
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A fitness fanatic has set herself 30 challenges to complete before she turns 30 after she was diagnosed with cancer.

Heather Duff, 29, of Winchburgh, West Lothian, was given the news her cervical cancer was in remission in August 2014.

Heather Duff, a 29-year-old cervical cancer survivor has signed up for an exciting new event from Cancer Research UK. Picture: Lesley Martin

Heather Duff, a 29-year-old cervical cancer survivor has signed up for an exciting new event from Cancer Research UK. Picture: Lesley Martin

Since then, the sports community inclusion officer who works for Edinburgh Leisure, has carried out a series of challenges.

Heather, who said she was healthy and fit before her diagnosis, said her “whole life changed” after she was told she had cancer.

Since being told she was in remission, Heather has ticked off getting married to her partner Gordon.

She has also met a celebrity – comedian Adam Hills sang ‘Happy Cancerversary’ to the tune of Happy Birthday in front of a large audience on the anniversary that Heather was diagnosed with cancer.

Heather Duff. Picture: Lesley Martin

Heather Duff. Picture: Lesley Martin

Heather has also bagged a Munro, dived from a 10m board at the Commonwealth Pool become and home owner and watched a sunrise and sunset in the same spot, as well as got a tattoo with her mum.

In the coming months, Heather also intends to ride a motorbike, learn to juggle, throw an axe in Canada and run a marathon.

Heather, said: “From being diagnosed with cancer to being treated took just four months. But in that time my whole life changed.

“I wanted my list to be a celebration of life, a celebration of everything that’s to come. I’m just so grateful to all my family and friends who got me through this. I didn’t have to attend one appointment alone, someone was always there for me.

“Now I want to make the most of every minute which is why I have set myself these challenges.

“As I am still recovering from cancer treatment, my body can be a bit unpredictable and so I am having to take my marathon training cautiously. But it’s brilliant going out and about, especially with my dog Parsnip who was a present from my husband Gordon when I was diagnosed with cancer.”

It’s really important to me to raise awareness of this awful disease. I’m under 30, I’m fit, I watch what I eat and I exercise, I’m a non-smoker and I don’t drink much. If I can get cancer, anyone can. We need to keep fighting back and the only way we’ll do that is by raising money so that Cancer Research UK can keep working to find a cure.”

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As well as setting herself the person challenges, Heather will take part in Scotland’s first ever 10k Cancer Research UK Snowflake Run in Edinburgh on 21 February and she is calling on men and women of all abilities to join her.

Participants can expect Holyrood Park to be transformed into a winter wonderland featuring falling snow and hugs from friendly ‘polar bears’ on the finish line, providing an added incentive to conquer the cold for Cancer Research UK.

Heather said: “Taking part in the Snowflake Run is an important part of celebrating my recovery and I’m looking forward to being part of such a fun event.

“The cold won’t put me off because I know the money I’m raising is helping to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured. That’s what will keep me going come rain, shine or blizzard.”

For those looking to get fitter in 2016, the Snowflake Run is the perfect New Year challenge. Taking on the event could also provide seasoned runners with the motivation to banish the winter blues and keep training during the cold weather – all in aid of a good cause.

Linda Summerhayes, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in Scotland, said: “We’re so excited that the Snowflake Run is taking place in Edinburgh for the first time and hope to see an avalanche of support for this unique new event.

“Every day, around 85 people in Scotland are diagnosed with cancer*, so we need as many people as possible to sign up.

“Now that the clocks have gone back, it’s all too tempting to put the exercise regime on ice and hibernate until spring.

“But cancer never sleeps, so we need people to sign up now to brave the elements for Cancer Research UK. They will be able to bask in the knowledge that they’re raising vital funds for research, which is helping more men, women and children and across the UK survive.”

Organisers hope around 1,300 people will enter the Edinburgh Snowflake Run and raise around £120,000 for vital research.

Linda Summerhayes continued: “Sadly, most of us know someone whose life has been touched by cancer. One in two of us in the UK will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in our lives. And that’s why we urgently need people to enter the Edinburgh Snowflake Run.

“Our aim is that one day everyone will beat cancer. The more research we fund, the sooner that day will come.”

To enter the Cancer Research UK Edinburgh Snowflake Run visit