A woman diagnosed with bowel cancer at the age of just 24, and whose father died of lung cancer during her treatment, is getting set to run the Race for Life.
Alisha Bowell, now 26, began to experience severe stomach pains in November 2011 and was unable to eat. Both her GP and the hospital doctor diagnosed constipation and she was given treatment for this.
However, the pain persisted and Alisha, of Curtiss Drive, Leavesden, was eventually given a scan.
A blockage in her bowel was discovered and emergency surgery followed. Alisha had a colostomy bag fitted and was diagnosed with bowel cancer, for which she also needed chemotherapy.
In March 2013, during her treatment, Alisha’s father Alvin, a property developer, was given the news that he had small cell lung cancer, which claimed his life.
Alisha said: "It was a huge shock to be diagnosed with bowel cancer at such a young age.
"When I was having my chemo people used to think I was there to visit someone, rather than me being the patient.
"My dad was really positive and encouraged me to be too. I carried on working throughout my treatment, despite having a colostomy bag, which was unpleasant."
Her father Alvin died just months after his diagnosis.
Alisha continued: "Finding out then that dad had terminal lung cancer was devastating. It was so tough for my mum and brothers, having to see us both go through treatment. Dad fought really hard and was so brave but passed away in December 2013 aged just 59. I am keen to make people aware that cancer can affect anyone at any age, so we all need to do what we can to fight it."
Alisha, who works as an account manager for a fashion company, has been in remission for almost three years and is now just having yearly checks.
Together with almost 20 friends, Alisha has formed a Race for Life team called Lisha Lou, in memory of her dad and to celebrate her own successful fight against cancer.
She has taken part in the event for the past two years and has already raised more than £6,500 for Cancer Research UK.
The Watford Race for Life will take place on Sunday, June 15, in Cassiobury Park.
Alisha has completed the event in Watford for the past two years and will be running in the St Albans event on Sunday, July 27.
Alisha added: "I did my first Race for Life event in 2012, just as I’d finished my treatment. My scan had come back clear and my friends carried me over the line so it was very emotional day. I feel so lucky to have beaten cancer but many people, like my dad, don’t. The NHS team that have looked after me were, and still are, amazing - I am very blessed."
Watford Race for Life organiser, Julie Braithwaite, said: "I am delighted to see Alisha taking part in the Race for Life with the support of so many friends and family members.
"It is because of inspiring people like Alisha that we are issuing the rallying cry ‘cancer, we’re coming to get you’ and urging women to Race for Life.
"I hope that Alisha’s story will encourage many more women to get involved as together we really can make a difference."