Super-fit cancer survivor from Blackpool attempts four world records in July to end stigma around smear tests and period talk

An adventurous Blackpool cancer survivor is attempting four world records in July to encourage more women to go for smear tests

By Lucinda Herbert
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 4:55 am

40 year old Andrea Mason has pushed her body to the limits, doing various extreme fitness challenges since her cancer diagnosis in 2017.

And now she hopes to smash four world records, by swimming 65km, cycling 800km and running 44km up three mountains – in just five days.

And her incredible efforts are all to get people talking about women’s health.

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Andrea Mason from Blackpool is attempting four world records in July to get people talking about women's health

Andrea splits her time between Blackpool and Chamonix in France. She said: I have huge distances to cover and cold temperatures to swim in, particularly in Loch Awe. I have set myself a big challenge, especially trying to complete the whole course in five days, but my motivation to raise awareness of female menstrual health has never been stronger.”

Mason’s challenge includes swimming Lake Bala in Wales, Lake Windermere, and the 41km long Loch Awe.

She will also run the 978m peak of Scafell Pike and Ben Nevis at 1345m.

And she will cycle between each location.

Andrea Mason from Blackpool is attempting four world records in July to get people talking about women's health

The endurance athlete had started to notice painful symptoms around the age of 23. She lived with this for 13 years before she was diagnosed with endometriosis and cervical cancer in 2017.

Endometriosis is a debilitating condition that causes painful, heavy periods and severe lower back/abdominal pain.

Tissue similar to the womb lining starts to grow around the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

It can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems.

Andrea started setting herself endurance challenges to help her to manage chronic pain caused by her condition, and give her something to focus on after having a hysterectomy.

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And she has been on a mission to get people talking about women’s health issues.

She said: “To this day, people still find it difficult to talk openly about women’s reproductive health matters.

“This should not be the case; we should talk about periods and related conditions such as endometriosis like we talk about a common cold.”

Andrea had missed several smear tests before she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2017. She set up the charity Lady Talk Matters in 2020, to provide a global education platform, and encourage people to go for their smear tests.

She said: “One in three women already do not attend their smear test and one in 10 women currently have endometriosis. More than ever before I want to raise awareness around these issues.”

She is also tackling the bigger issue of the taboo surrounding menstrual and reproductive health, which means many conditions go undiagnosed.

“Despite improvements, the menstrual health education is substantially below par both globally and in many schools within the UK. We need future generations to grow up feeling confident talking about this.”

Andrea’s four record attempts will be to become:

- The fastest known person to swim Lake Bala, cycle to and run Snowdon

- The fastest known person to swim Lake Windemere, cycle to and run Scafell Pike

- The fastest known person to swim Loch Awe, cycle to and run Ben Nevis

- The fastest known person to swim and run the longest lake and highest peak in Wales, England and Scotland, cycling between them