Preston cancer survivor steps up for Cancer Research UK

A Preston mum is stepping up for Cancer Research UK’s latest fundraising campaign, Walk All Over Cancer.

By Clare Kelly
Friday, 4th February 2022, 12:30 pm
Updated Friday, 4th February 2022, 4:11 pm

Breast cancer survivor Emma Ryan, from Walton-le-Dale, feared she wouldn’t live long enough to see her children grow-up.

But she is now inviting people to sign up and get sponsored to walk 10,000 steps every day in March to help support the charity’s life-saving mission.

The mum-of-three knows first-hand just how important new breakthroughs are to help more people like her survive.

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Preston cancer survivor Emma Ryan is urging people to sign up now to Walk All Over Cancer and take 10,000 steps a day throughout March to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research

Emma, 44, saw her GP in 2010 after finding a lump in her right breast. Emma, who is married to husband Philip and has a son Adam, 24, and daughters Leah, 22, and Bethany, 20, was referred to Chorley Hospital where she had a mammogram, biopsy, ultrasound and cells removed from her breast with a needle.

At the age of 32 she was devastated to be diagnosed with breast cancer and given a 65 per cent chance of survival. Further tests showed Emma had a less common type of breast cancer – called triple negative.

She faced a 10-hour operation during which surgeons removed her right breast and surrounding lymph nodes and then reconstructed her breast. This was followed by five months of chemotherapy and five weeks of radiotherapy at the Rosemere Cancer Centre in Preston.

Emma, who works as a kitchen assistant at Walton-le-Dale Primary School, made a good recovery. She was thrilled to became a grandmother for the first time seven months ago when daughter Leah gave birth to baby Gianna. She plans to notch-up the 10,000 steps each day by pushing Gianna in her buggy.

Preston cancer survivor Emma Ryan is urging people to sign up now to Walk All Over Cancer and take 10,000 steps a day throughout March to raise money for Cancer Research UK’s life-saving research. She is pictured with baby grand-daughter Gianna

Emma said: “It was devastating when I was told I had cancer. Nothing can prepare you for those words.

"But now I’ve been given the greatest gift of all - more precious time with my loved ones. I owe everything to research into better treatments, so now I’m determined to do what I can to help save more lives. When I was given a 65 per cent chance of survival, I feared I wouldn’t see my children grow up. But now I have lived long enough to not only see my three children become adults, I am now a grandma to Gianna who has lit up all of our lives.

“I hope people in Lancashire will follow in my footsteps and Walk All Over Cancer this March. Everyone can go at their own pace and build the steps into their day-to-day routine, whether they walk on their own or with family and friends. The important thing is every step will help Cancer Research UK to keep making great strides in the fight against the disease.”

In the North West, around 44,900 people are diagnosed with cancer a year.

But, thanks to research more people than ever across the UK are surviving their cancer for 10 years or more.

This year marks 20 years since Cancer Research UK was formed and to celebrate its birthday it is paying tribute to supporters like Emma for the part they have played in this progress.

The charity’s history, however, goes back much further to the founding of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund in 1902 – meaning its work has been at the heart of some of the biggest developments in cancer, including some of the most used cancer drugs around the world today.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North West, said: “Every day we see the benefits of research we’ve previously funded being realised, helping people live longer and healthier lives. So, as we mark our 20th anniversary, we want to say a heartfelt thank you to Emma and people across Lancashire for their incredible commitment to the cause.

“One in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime, and so we will never stop striving to create better treatments for tomorrow. That’s why we need everyone to step up to Walk All Over Cancer.

"It’s a safe and simple way to show support during these challenging times and a great way for homeworkers to increase their daily step count.

“Plus, knowing you’ll be helping to save and improve lives for generations to come is the ultimate motivation. We've come so far. And we will go much further. Together we will beat cancer.”

Ten thousand steps is equal to about five miles, based on the average person’s strides, so by the end of March Emma will have clocked up more than 150 miles.

That’s quite a challenge for some, but adopting small changes that you can stick to can really add up – whether it’s taking part in conference calls on the go, exploring local beauty spots or treating the dog to a month of extra-long walks.

Keeping check on the number of steps taken each day is a great way to create a sense of achievement and it’s easy to do with smartphone apps, pedometers and wearable activity trackers available to help. Walk All Over Cancer participants can connect their online giving page with FitBit to automatically publish their step count and share their progress with their supporters throughout the month.

Jane Bullock added: “This past year proves, more than any other, the value of research and what can be achieved together. Just like science is our route out of the pandemic, science is our route to beating cancer.

“From proving the link between smoking and cancer to laying the foundations for modern radiotherapy – our scientists have been at the forefront of cancer research for 120 years. And we’re not stopping now – so we hope people in Lancashire will pull on their walking shoes and help us to keep pushing forward.”

Cancer Research UK was able to spend more than £33m in the North West last year on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research. The charity’s ambition is to see 3 in 4 people survive their cancer by 2034.

To sign up and receive a free fundraising pack and t-shirt, visit