To enter the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run, visit: Greatrun.org/Winter

A woman who was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer and managed to beat it following a year battle has turned her life around thanks to taking up running during her recovery.

Karen Gray, from Tranent in East Lothian, had her world turned upside down when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in April 2015, following a routine mammogram check.

The cancer had grown underneath her breast and was completely hidden from view, meanining that it had increased to a size of over 4cm.

The diagnosis shocked Karen and her husband Collin, who had already experienced the devastating effects of the disease, having lost Karen’s brother ten years before.

Karen underwent a year of intensive treatment at Edinburgh’s Western General Hospital, including chemotherapy every three weeks, followed by a lumpectomy operation and radiotherapy.

She said that her year-long treatment was one of the most difficult times for her, as she constantly fought illness, rashes caused by the chemotherapy and battled pneumonia.

Finally, after 12 months of treatment, Karen was given the all-clear in June 2016 and was given a new outlook towards life.

During her treatment, her friends took part in running events to fundraise for Maggies Edinburgh and Breast Cancer Now, two charities that supported Karen over the last year.

When Karen finally got the all-clear, she was persuaded by her friend Carol to join them on their next run as she wanted to concentrate on her health and fitness.

Over the last year Karen has turned her life around and grown into a confident runner and decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run on Saturday 13 January.

She aims to raise awareness about breast cancer and the charities that support patients during their recovery.

Karen, 55, said: “Because I am over 50, I attend mammogram appointments every two years and so in 2015 I went to the clinic and returned home, never thinking that my life would change so drastically.

“Even when I received a letter asking me to return, I never expected to be given the news that I had cancer.

“Doctors found a huge lump underneath my breast, it was over 4cm and I was told that I probably hadn’t discovered it because it was so hidden.

“It came as a huge shock to me and my husband, we could not believe it and we were so nervous about what the future would hold. We had gone through the effects of cancer as my mum and brother both passed away from it and it left us feeling very anxious.

“I underwent chemotherapy once every three weeks, followed by an operation after Christmas to remove the tumour.

“The chemotherapy was really draining and I became very ill, staying in hospital a lot of the time because I was too weak to go home.

“It was there that my consultant told me about Breast Cancer Now and how the charity funds research into the disease and encourages people to have the conversation to raise awareness into catching it early.

“My friends started fundraising for the charity and took part in running events to support them while I was undergoing treatment. “

After radiotherapy, I was finally given the all-clear which was amazing and one of my friends Carol persuaded me to join them on their running sessions.

“I decided to give it a go as I wanted to focus on my health following what I had gone through and since then I haven’t looked back!”

Karen will join over 3,000 people who take on the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run to kickstart their New Year. The 5k run features a scenic tour of Holyrood Park, passing the iconic Arthur’s Seat before runners cross the finish line close to Holyrood Palace.

Karen aims to take on the event so she can improve her fitness through training and beat her 5k personal best.

She added: “I never imagined how different my life would be after going through breast cancer. By taking up running, I feel more determined to get through things and reach my personal goals.

“I run for myself but also for others who have gone through the same illness as me.

“When I was poorly, I put on weight and slowly but surely, running is helping me get back to my old self.”

To enter the Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh Winter Run, visit: Greatrun.org/Winter