Great Britain scooped gold at the European para-rowing championships in Munich yesterday - led by a cox who was diagnosed with cancer just three months ago.
Erin Kennedy MBE, 30, found out that she had breast cancer three months ago, but refused to let it scupper her team’s dream of bringing home a medal.
She vowed, ‘cancer won't define me or my career.’
Speaking after the event, she tearfully explained that her teammates, Frankie Allen, Giedre Rakauskaite, Ed Fuller and Ollie Stanhope, had been a huge support since the diagnosis.
She said: 'Today's been really emotional for me. I’m really holding it together. I'm just really proud of the team. It's a lot for me to take but it's also a lot for them. They've picked me up every time.
'My oncologist is just totally on board with this so don't worry. I'm not sort of running away from her and hiding it from her.'
The team finished the 2,000m PR3 mixed coxed four final course in seven minutes 6.73 seconds, a huge 19.33 seconds clear of France.
Kennedy has already undergone two rounds of chemotherapy, and will now take some time away from the sport to undergo more treatment.
She told the BBC, ‘I’ve had two rounds of chemotherapy so far. I'm getting off my flight on Tuesday into an oncology appointment and have bloods taken to have chemotherapy on the Thursday. So that will be my round three. And then at the end of the month I'll have round four.
'From that moment it will be every other week and then after that I'll have weekly treatment for 12 weeks. It's a sabbatical, it's not a stop. And, all being well, I'll be back for racing next spring and I'll fight anyone who says I won't.'
Kennedy, a Paralympic gold medallist and holder of multiple world titles, admitted that when doctors revealed that she had cancer her first thought was on how it might keep her from the water.
She admitted to Olympics.com, 'Genuinely, I was like, “What about rowing because it's a fundamental part of my life?” It's not something that I would ever want to just walk away from. I wasn't just going to basically go home and sit and wallow.'
Now she is keeping the 2024 Paris Olympics at the forefront of her mind, and using it as something to focus on during her recovery.
'If there's anything motivating me to get better it's to come back and take this crew to Paris.’
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