A Bournemouth grandmother who returned to sea swimming after two battles with breast cancer is preparing to take part in the Pier to Pier swim
Keen swimmer Jackie Ingram, 66, stayed out of the water for seven years between her two battles with breast cancer in 2011 and 2018.
Lumpectomies and the removal of lymph nodes led her whole body to swell and her confidence to plummet.
Then, in 2018 she underwent a full mastectomy without the possibility of reconstruction.
Self-conscious and struggling to afford expensive specialist swimwear Jackie resigned herself to never swimming again.
Then last July Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) stepped in to help get her back into the water – and she hasn’t looked back.
Jackie said: “When I was first diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago I got through the surgery and treatment with the love and support of my friends and family.
“But I lost the confidence to do the thing that gave me the most joy – swimming in the ocean.
“Before cancer I swam all the time and even took part in races and charity swim events.
“But when I suffered acute lymphedema (swelling) in my arms and legs, I stopped swimming altogether and it was heartbreaking.”
Jackie tried sewing breast pads inside her own bathing suit with disastrous results.
“The pads would often come back out of the water ahead of me!” said Jackie.
Then she learned she could apply to Dorset Cancer Care Foundation for help.
The Poole-based charity paid for a new swimsuit with built-in prosthesis and Jackie has been swimming around three times a week ever since.
She said: “I have swum so much my suit actually wore out. But DCCF have saved the day again and bought me two new ones.
“Now I’m going to really test myself by entering the Pier to Pier Swim.”
The annual Bournemouth Pier to Pier Swim (July 14) sees hundreds of swimmers brave the English channel for an incredible 1.4 mile open water challenge, swimming parallel to the beach between Bournemouth and Boscombe Piers.
Jackie said: “I’m excited and a little nervous but the organisers are allowing me to get in last to avoid the crowds and I’m just going to take my time.”
She continued: “I’ll be raising money for the event charity the British Heart Foundation and thanks to my wonderful friends I’m already above £500. But I’ll also be doing it to say a huge thank you to DCCF for helping me get back to my love of swimming.”
Dorset Cancer Care Foundation (DCCF) fundraises to help the county’s cancer patients cope with the financial burdens of cancer.
The charity gives grants to pay for everything from transport to and from hospital to specialist equipment and short breaks.
Co-founder Eve Went said: “Seeing the sheer joy on Jackie’s face when she walks into the waves fills me with admiration for her and pride for what DCCF and all its fundraisers do for people here in Dorset.
“We hope Jackie’s story inspires even more Dorset cancer patients to seek our help and also to support our work.”
Jackie can still be sponsored in the Pier to Pier Swim at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/jackie-ingram1