‘You only have one life and you have got to live it’

Emma Peterson in action on her Yamaha R6 SUS-180830-163312001
Emma Peterson in action on her Yamaha R6 SUS-180830-163312001

A high-speed motorbike crash in which a daredevil sportswoman broke her back has turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

For tests on brave adrenaline junkie Emma Peterson after her horror crash revealed that she has a form of cancer - but it’s in its early stages.

Emma Peterson SUS-180830-163323001

Emma Peterson SUS-180830-163323001

“It was a massive shock,” said Emma, 43, from Billingshurst. Medics discovered she has chronic lymphocytic leukaemia - but it’s a slow-growing form of the disease and is at ‘Grade 1’ that currently requires no treatment. “I might never need any,” said Emma. “Some people live all their lives and never get any worse.”

However, doctors will now monitor Emma closely for any changes in her condition that she’s been told she could have had for years without realising.

Meanwhile, the shock findings have failed to diminish Emma’s need for speed. Not only did she get back in the saddle of her powerful Yamaha R6 motorbike following her back injury and cancer diagnosis, but she went on to win two trophies at a race meeting at Snetterton in Norfolk last week.

And it was all just eight weeks after the 135mph crash at Brands Hatch in which the rookie racer broke two vertebrae - the third time she has broken her back.

She was rushed to hospital from Brands Hatch and spent five days unable to move while her condition was assessed, and five weeks off work.

And when she was later told that blood tests revealed she had leukaemia “telling the people I love was the hardest, my partner, my mum and my son. Seeing them upset, upset me. But you just carry on with your life.”

Her previous back injuries were sustained in horse riding accidents while she ran a livery stable before taking up motorcycle racing in July last year.

“When I gave up the horses I was just missing something that gave me a bit of a buzz,” said Emma, who works as a lorry driver and is also a regular scuba diver - “anything that makes my heart race” - with partner and fellow bike enthusiast Keith Mawson.

Emma is one of only a few women who race with the 400-member British Motorcycle Racing Club, known as Bemsee, and is already gearing up for the start of the next season in March.

Meanwhile, she’s planning a scuba diving drip with Keith to The Maldives in October. “You only have one life and you have got to live it.”