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The epic challenge breast cancer survivor Jenny Phillips is taking on for South Bucks Community Hospice

PUBLISHED: 15:06 18 August 2017

Have bike, will pedal. Jenny is a member of Marlow Riders

Have bike, will pedal. Jenny is a member of Marlow Riders

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A breast cancer survivor is taking on an epic challenge for The South Bucks Community Hospice. Here she tells Charlotte Davis why she is doing it

Nearly 14 years after she was diagnosed with breast cancer, Jenny Phillips plans to embark on a monumental 969-mile cycling challenge in the hope of raising thousands of pounds for patients with life-limiting illnesses.

Jenny, now 53, is determined to help The South Bucks Community Hospice because she knows exactly what the patients there are going through after fighting and beating an aggressive cancer. She believes that a major shift in her diet helped her recovery. As a result she retrained as a nutritionist and wrote a book on the subject.

“When I was fighting cancer all those years ago, I was very young and felt I had a lot to live for. Now I want to be able to give something back to the patients who may be going through what I had to face,” says the mother-of-two from Downley in High Wycombe.

Although Jenny only took up cycling three years ago on September 9 she will set off on a bike ride of almost 1,000 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in aid of the hospice based at Butterfly House in High Wycombe. “I am doing this in recognition of all the many people who are life limited, and that’s why I want to support the hospice,” explains Jenny, who is a member of Marlow Riders. “Although the training is extreme, I feel that this challenge is within my grasp. I was diagnosed with cancer in my 30s and I am fitter and healthier now than I was all those years ago.”

She adds: “Health is something that I no longer take for granted, so not a day goes by that I don’t feel glad to be alive and on the planet. I am so delighted that I am able to undertake such a massive event as this. But so many people are facing difficult health conditions that really limit their ability to participate in a full life. I am supporting the hospice because it can really help in providing services to these people.”

Jenny hopes to raise at least £2,000. She will be part of 800 riders who will spend nine days on the journey. The event, called the Deloitte Ride Across Britain, is run annually and Jenny used her own funds to buy a place. She will be accompanied by her friend Andy May, from Weston Turville, who is raising funds for Cancer Research. The contingent of cyclists will stop at camp sites along the way, and the team spirit is one aspect that Jenny is most looking forward to.

The prospect of the ride both excites and scares her. “The first day in Cornwall involves 8,500 feet of climbing, which is huge, and I’m really terrified about that,” she admits. “On one of the days alone, we will be riding 127 miles. But the challenge gives me so much motivation, and what a great way to see the UK.”

Jenny has been free of cancer for 14 years. She reveals: “I had breast cancer and took six months to beat it. At the time, our children were very small – five and six years old. I went through all the treatment, but felt I needed to do more to increase my chances of success. I read extensively and made big shifts in my diet and lifestyle, and consequently I have much better health now than when I was younger, which is really cool. It’s quite a privilege to be fit and well enough to do this ride.”

Jenny, who has a background in science and a chemistry degree, is convinced that the dramatic change in her diet helped her survival. She began looking at what cancer was and started to build up a picture of how she could help with her diagnosis. As a result of her experience, Jenny – who worked in management and marketing – made a career switch in 2005, becoming a nutritionist, and going on to write a book called ‘Eat to Outsmart Cancer’.

“Clearly what we put in our bodies matters a lot,” she says. “Before my diagnosis I followed the healthy eating guidelines which focus on cereals and grains, such as sandwiches. But my new way of eating suits me so much better, as it does my clients. I really cut down on processed foods like pasta and bread, and ate more vegetables and natural food. I then found a lot of niggly health problems, such as asthma that I’d had since childhood – and which I hadn’t considered were related – just went away.”

She explains: “My food now is very simple but really, really delicious and easy and I feel so much better.”

Jenny has now spent over a decade involved heavily fitness and nutrition, gaining a degree in nutritional medicine and building her business, Inspired Nutrition. She chose to back The South Bucks Community Hospice after meeting its Chief Executive Officer Jo Woolf, and visiting the new hospice building Butterfly House, a stunning new palliative day centre in Totteridge, High Wycombe.

“I was really impressed with the work Jo Woolf was doing to bring an improved quality of life to people who need it. I was very impressed by her plans. Having faced cancer myself, I have the constant knowledge of what it’s like.” To back Jenny and South Bucks Community Hospice, go to justgiving.com/fundraising/jennynutrition.


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