Keen swimmer Tuppy Hill feared that her swimming days were over when she had to undergo a life changing operation for bowel cancer. However she has now triumphed and taken part in a swimathon to raise money for cancer charities.
Tuppy from Ferndown had been a keen swimmer since the age of four.
Following chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour, Tuppy, who was then 56, wasn’t allowed to swim because of her immune system being so vulnerable. This treatment seemed to have worked but sadly, after six months, the tumour came back and Tuppy endured a five-hour long operation to save her life.
This traumatic operation left her coping with a stoma, an invisible disability.
“I found some people unsympathetic when I used disabled facilities, wondering why I needed to. To the outside world, I look like I have nothing wrong.”
Returning to her hobby of swimming was also a challenge.
She said: “I was so worried that things would go wrong with the stoma when I was in the pool and there is also a risk of a peristomal hernia if you don’t wear the right support when you’re swimming, let alone other activities.”
Thanks to the kindness and understanding of Canford Sports Centre and the support of ‘amazing stoma nurses’ at Poole Hospital, Tuppy started to swim again, just a few gentle lengths at a time and wearing a tummy controlled swimming costume as well as an abdominal support belt to give her support.
This determined woman recently completed 10k as part of a nationwide MySwimathon and raised £625 for Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie Cancer Care. She has been acknowledged as one of the top fundraisers for this event.
Tuppy said: “I was able to complete the MySwimathon and did it in three sessions, swimming for a total of four hours, 12 minutes.”
At the same time, Tuppy’s brother Rick Hill from Lichfield, completed two 5km swimathons on consecutive days followed by a further 5K on the third day with his two grandchildren Judah aged 10 and Aliyah aged 7. These efforts raised a further £500 for Tuppy’s charities.
She said: “I thought I was going to die. When you get that curve-ball thrown at you, you realise just how important the work of these cancer charities are to research this disease and support those going through it.”
She added: “Swimming is my go-to-place. For me it’s both a great physical and mental health boost and gives me time when I don’t think too much about anything – just enjoy the water.”
Tuppy is now contemplating doing the Pier-to-Pier challenge, swimming in open sea from Bournemouth to Boscombe Pier.
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