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Norwich woman's emotional race for life

PUBLISHED: 17:00 15 March 2010 | UPDATED: 08:51 02 July 2010

Wendy Cocks, who is running the Race For Life with her granddaughter Shayla White (20) and great-granddaughters Katelyn and Ruby.

Wendy Cocks, who is running the Race For Life with her granddaughter Shayla White (20) and great-granddaughters Katelyn and Ruby.

Sarah Brealey

Wendy Cocks has run the Race for Life in memory her husband ever since his death four years ago.

Wendy Cocks has run the Race for Life in memory her husband ever since his death four years ago.

But this year's event will have an added poignancy as she has been hit by cancer herself - and will take part with four generations of her family.

Mrs Cocks, 62, will be raising money during the Cancer Research UK event with her daughter Jenny Townall, granddaughter Shayla White, and great-granddaughters Katelyn and Ruby, who could be the youngest participants at the Norwich event.

The family has rallied round her since she was diagnosed with bowel cancer - the same disease that killed her birth father.

Brian Cocks, a former builder and ex-landlord of the Nelson pub, in Nelson Road, died four years ago from lung cancer at the age of 66. He had already been suffering with emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Mrs Cocks, of Mile Cross, in Norwich, has always been in good health, so when she went to the doctor with mild symptoms she did not think it was anything serious.

“I didn't feel ill. My birth father, who I never knew, died from bowel cancer so when I noticed things were a bit different I went to the doctor, but I thought it was just irritable bowel syndrome. It was a big shock.

“Until last year I was 62 going on 40, but now I have had this thrown at me. There is no point in sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I still work and I still like going out on a Saturday night. I am not allowed to drink much now, but I can still get up and dance.

“I would have done the Race for Life this year anyway, but having cancer myself has given me an added reason to do it.”

After being diagnosed with cancer in August, she had an operation in November and is currently having a six-month course of chemotherapy because it had spread to her lymph nodes. Last month she had to spend eight days in hospital after she reacted badly to the chemotherapy, but she is still working at Specsavers, in White Lion Street.

She said: “At work they have been fantastic, letting me have time off and helping me raise money. I can't thank them enough.”

The mother-of-three and grandmother-of-six, who lives in Gresham Road, is hoping to raise £400 and is already halfway to her target. She said the idea for the family to take part came from her youngest daughter Mrs Townall, 23, who is stationed at RAF Coningsby working in logistics supply, and is planning a trip home to take part in the event on May 1.

Mrs Cocks added: “My Jenny came home for a week to look after me after I came out of hospital in November. She said 'Are you going to do the Race for Life next year', and when I said yes she said she would like to do it with me.

“Then Shayla, who has been fantastic, said she would like to do it as well. So I said: 'That makes three generations, why don't you bring your girls along and then we will have four?'”

Miss White, 20, who lives in the city centre, said she wanted to take part after the deaths of her grandfather and her boyfriend's grandmother from cancer, followed by her grandmother's bowel cancer.

She said she was very close to her grandmother, adding: “She is really strong. Sometimes you wouldn't even know there is anything wrong with her.

“My oldest will be three, so she is going to walk part of the way with my youngest, who is one, in the buggy. I think the girls will raise more money than me because everyone will want to sponsor them.”

You can sponsor Mrs Cocks to do the Race for Life for Cancer Research UK at www.raceforlifesponsorme.org/wendycocks, or to take part visit www.raceforlife.org or call 0871 641 1111.

Are you running the Race for Life for a special reason? Contact Evening News reporter Sarah Brealey on 01603 772485 or email sarah.brealey@archant.co.uk.

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