Fighting cancer - strong by name, strong by nature
Just four years ago, Rose Bay Secondary College PDHPE teacher, Hayley Strong, was a young, newly married woman with the world at her feet.
Two months after her dream wedding, she was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia (acute promyelocytic leukaemia or APML), which only 15 years ago was one of the most deadly forms of the disease, with only one in three patients surviving more than three years.
Due to research and medical trials in treatment since then, 80 per cent of sufferers are now expected to live more than five years, and Ms Strong hopes to outdo that statistic too.
"Thanks to funding and research my prognosis was positive however there are still a lot of cancers out there with very poor survival rates. I have witnessed this first-hand with five family members passing away from different types of cancer," Ms Strong said.
She credits her haematologist, Dr John Moore, and the nurses at St Vincent's Hospital for assisting her recovery.
Now in remission, having completed a gruelling round of chemotherapy in December 2010, Ms Strong set her sights on regaining her pre-cancer fitness and raising funds for cancer research.
Can Too is a not-for-profit program that inspires people to get fit while at the same time raising money for Cure Cancer Australia Foundation through endurance events like 10km, half and full marathon runs and ocean swims. Last year, Ms Strong signed up for the Can Too 9km Blackmore's Bridge Run program – her first real exercise in three years.
Inspired by the experience, in May this year she ran the Sydney Morning Herald Half Marathon, completing it in less than two hours.
"I have decided to go one step further to challenge myself by doing my first marathon on September 16. Maybe I am just plain crazy, but thanks to Can Too, I feel like I am mentally and almost physically getting back to my old self," she said.
Through Can Too and her marathon run, Ms Strong is hoping to raise $2000 by 21 September for the Cure Cancer Australia Foundation. Find out more.