#073: Heather Hawkins on Cancer, Running & Her Adventurous Spirit [Podcast] - Sparta Chicks

#073: Heather Hawkins on Cancer, Running & Her Adventurous Spirit [Podcast]

Sparta Chicks Radio

Sep 02
Heather Hawkins - Sparta Chicks Radio
“You can take on things that you think are much bigger than yourself, because you grow in the process.”

Back in 2007, Heather Hawkins was by her own admission, a desperately unfit and busy mum of 2. 

Then one day she visited her doctor after noticing some unusual symptoms she initially attributed to the ‘middle age’ spread, enjoying Christmas a little too much and even menopause.

A scan later the same day revealed the shocking news - Heather was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Often known as the “forgotten disease”, it has vague everyday symptoms which can be attributed to everything from the middle age spread, peri-menopause and menopause, to even simply enjoying the good things in life a little too much. 

Sadly this can make it hard for many women to recognise the symptoms and seek treatment in time, so the survival rate is shockingly low - just 43% over 5 years (as opposed to 90% for breast cancer and 94% for prostate cancer). 

Fortunately, Heather has not only survived but thrived in the years since.

And just 6 years ago, she took up running.

Heather in action in the Sahara Desert in Morocco

She then Heather has gone on to finish:

* the North Pole Marathon, where she won the women’s division and finished 8th overall

* the World Marathon Challenge, which is 7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days,

* the Volcano Marathon in Chile, which is held at over 4,000m in altitude, and

* earlier this year, the Marathon des Sables, a 250km, 7 day stage race across the Sahara Desert in Morocco.

Plus she’s hiked the 1,700km Great Himalaya Trail across the Nepalese Himalayas with her children in an adventure that took over 5 months.

Heather in the Himalayas

In this conversation we discuss:

* the signs and symptoms she noticed that led her to visit her doctor in 2007,

* the importance of trusting your intuition and seeking medical attention as soon as you notice something (and not putting it off because it’s “probably nothing”, you’re just “over-reacting” or because you’re busy and you have other things to do),

* how getting practical enabled her to control her thoughts and not let her imagination get the better of her during her treatment and recovery,

* whether she experiences ‘survivors guilt’, 

* her first fun run,

* how she came to be on the start line of the North Pole Marathon just 3 years after she started running,

* the World Marathon Challenge as well as the Great Himalaya Trail,

* the fear of failure, and 

* what it’s like to see herself on the big screen; Heather is starring of a documentary about her experience at the Marathon des Sables which is currently being shown at the Run Nation Film Festival.

Click here to listen on iTunes.

Notes and resources:

iTunes | Stitcher

To find out more about Heather or to say hello, you can find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or via her website.

For more information about ovarian cancer, visit Ovarian Cancer Australia

You can locations and dates for the Run Nation Film Festival here.

You can buy Heather's book on Booktopia or Book Depository or download the audio version on Audible.