Septuagenarian and breast cancer survivor Ann Bacon takes the plunge for charity on her birthday today.
Mrs Bacon will tackle 60 lengths of Kelso swimming pool early this morning, her 72nd birthday, in the annual Swimathon to raise money for Marie Curie Cancer Care.
She said: “Jim (Currie, the pool manager), he’s a brilliant man, said I can do it on Thursday morning before anyone else is around – then I’m going to come home and go to sleep.”
The retired office manager, who has swum for charity before, has planned the Swimathon for years. But she was still recovering from cancer in 2009, last year she was visiting her son Bruce in Australia, but this year she was determined to do it.
She and her husband Tony, of Heiton, moved to the Borders from Berkshire four years ago. A year later a routine mammogram x-ray showed a lump.
“They said, ‘we think it’s cancer’. I had to have a biopsy and they told me on Christmas Eve, ” said mother-of-four Mrs Bacon.
She had a lumpectomy in January 2009 when many of her lymph nodes were also removed.
Her first round with chemotherapy was halted: “It didn’t do me much good. My liver didn’t like it – I went bright yellow and felt dreadful, but you don’t expect to feel good on chemo.”
Radiotherapy followed and then doctors tried her on a reduced chemotherapy dosage, but she ended up in hospital with an infection.
“I have a mammogram every year and take Letrozole (the anti-oestrogen drug) every day – and I’m always telling people for goodness sake go (to their mammograms), ” said Mrs Bacon.
“I feel fine now, but it did take me a long time to feel normal again. I was very tired.”
The lifelong swimmer said of the charity she hopes to raise £500 for: “I didn’t need their support, but I think they do brilliant work. I supported Macmillan a couple of years ago with a coffee morning and thought I’d switch my allegiance this time.”
Asked what she expected of her swim, she said: “I think it’s just the fact that I can do it – assuming I can! I’ve done 50 lengths, so I think I can do the 60. It will be something to achieve: there were times when I thought, ‘is this the end?’
“My mother had cancer in the same breast at the same age and she lived for 20 years afterwards.
“I’m a bit worried about cramp. When I started doing quite a few lengths I got it, but it seems to be all right now, fingers crossed.”
Her son Guy is cooking her a birthday dinner in Edinburgh tonight.
And on Saturday – when many of the Borders’ other 60 or so Swimathon swimmers are doing their lengths – she and her husband will meet up with daughter Lucy in Dundee to celebrate granddaughter Milly’s third birthday.
Asked what her husband thinks of the 60-length challenge, she said: “He keeps saying, ‘don’t overdo it’.”
To support Mrs Bacon, log onto wwwswimathon.org, click ‘sponsor a swimmer’ and type in her name.