Having been diagnosed with stage three breast cancer, which had already claimed the lives of her mum and sister, Trisha Retter thought her ‘time was up’.
However, after 18 months of intensive treatment, the mum-of-two from Walberton is still here today eight years later, and planning to cycle from Milan to Venice, as a way of ‘giving something back’ to the people who saved her life.
Speaking about her roller coaster experience, Trisha said she feels lucky to be alive.
She said: “In 2011, I was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and underwent 18 months of treatment along with six operations to remove the cancer and reconstruct my body. I had mastectomy treatment at St Richard’s Hospital, followed by six lots of chemotherapy every three weeks and 21 days of radiotherapy at Queen Alexandra Hospital.
“Then I had 12 months of herceptin at St Richard’s, every three weeks for a year. They threw everything at me but I am still here today.
“I’ve lost my mum and younger sister to this awful disease. My sister died at 29 and my mum at 54 so my family has been hit quite hard. I was very near almost with them. When I got it as well I thought my time was up. I am just so grateful that they found it when they did.
"I never take a single day for granted and I want to do all I can to help other women who are where I have been.”
In May, Trisha will be one of 70 women taking part in a Dream Challenges event, with her best friend Donna Rogers, 45, ‘to raise vital funds for three amazing charities’.
Trisha said: "We are funding our own flights and we have already reached our fundraising target of £3,200 through kindness and generosity of people.
“Enjoying a new found love in cycling this challenge seemed the perfect opportunity. Donna, a wonderful friend of over 21 years, seemed the perfect partner to share this experience with. She is very supportive. She has always supported my family.
“We are cycling 355km from Milan to Venice across three days to raise vital funds for Breast Cancer Care, Ovarian Cancer Action and Jo’s Cervical Cancer. These three charities are committed to supporting the thousands of people across the UK who are sadly affected by women's cancers and fund research into developing effect treatments and cures for breast, ovarian and cervical cancer."
Trisha doesn't expect the cycling challenge to be light work.
“This is no easy challenge for us both," she said.
"At the outset of accepting the challenge, we could both cycle approximately 20 miles at any given time, however, we need to multiply that distance by four to manage the distance we need to cover each day to achieve this.
"We have been out training in the cold and the dark. We are currently in training to manage the 75 miles each day cycle, but it’s been tough with the challenges of weather and daylight hours given we both work full time.
"The route is amazing. It will have its challenges, but hopefully the weather is on our side. Determination to raise as much as possible for these amazing charities will help get us through this."
Trisha said the day after they finish the challenge, May 18, will also represent eight years since her diagnosis.
“I want to give something back every year but this is the biggest [challenge] I have done so far,” she said.
“It’s particularly special this year as it lines up with my 50th birthday and the eight-year anniversary of my diagnosis. I’m thankful to see the day and celebrate but more importantly to give something back to make sure more women get to celebrate their 50th birthday too.
“Not a day goes by when I don’t think how lucky I am.”