Woman plans London Marathon fundraiser to celebrate ‘privilege’ of reaching 60

Beverley Rouse, PA
·3-min read

A woman who lost her mother and two sisters to cancer before the age of 60 is celebrating reaching the milestone age by running the London Marathon for charity.

Rebecca Marshall-Potter said having cancer in the family can make people put life “on hold” but she realised “what a privilege it was to get to this age”.

Her mother Mary was diagnosed with colon cancer aged 28 and died in 1984 aged 58, while her sister Sue died seven years later with ovarian cancer aged 42.

In 2006 Rebecca’s sister Vicky died after developing leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer of the smooth muscle cells.

Loss is something everyone has to deal with at some point, Rebecca said, adding: “It’s all about how you manage it and how you deal with it.

Virgin Money London Marathon 2021
Rebecca Marshall-Potter, who is running the London Marathon for Macmillan Cancer Support (Family handout/PA)

“Sometimes you can live in the past too much. Sometimes you just have to take the day as it is and move forward.

“I still think a lot about my sisters and my mother and I know my brother does too.”

Rebecca, from Woodbridge, Suffolk, said she feels “privileged” to be running the Virgin Money London Marathon on October 3 for Macmillan Cancer Support which she said was “so necessary and so important”.

“It can come at any time. Cancer can happen to anybody and you can never prepare yourself for it.”

She had some pre-cancerous cells “zapped” after a cervical smear test and her husband John, 65, has monitoring checks after being diagnosed with early-stage prostate cancer in 2012.

“The screening is absolutely vital,” she said, urging people to have checks when they are offered as early diagnosis can be crucial.

Rebecca, who organises the annual FolkEast festival with her husband, said the London Marathon was the “most extraordinary adventure already”.

“Three days after the first lockdown in March, I turned 60. It was a wake-up call, ‘I’m 60, it’s time to move forward’.

“There is a time when you put your life on hold because you are not sure if you are going to get through it.

“Now I am 60 and I understand what a privilege it was to get to this age.”

Rebecca applied for a London Marathon place with Macmillan and was surprised to get one, saying: “Having not actually run for 20 odd years, if not longer, it was a bit of a shock.

“I immediately started. I have done the wonderful NHS Couch to 5k and I’m loving every minute.

“It’s been fantastic, a great sense of achievement.”

Rebecca said tackling 26.2 miles is “a bit daunting” but added: “Hitting 60 was a big milestone for me, now it’s time to value the time, whatever’s left.

“This is the biggest challenge ever to do the marathon. Even if I have to crawl, I will get to the end of it.”

To sponsor Rebecca, visit https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/RebeccaMarshallPotter