Serene celebrated New Year’s Eve in 2016 by marrying the love of her life. But just three weeks later she was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer!
This was a devastating blow to Serene, 40, and her partner Kelly, 37, as they embarked on the future together.
“I’d been suffering from back pains which doctors had put down to my manual work,” said Serene, who works as a Sky engineer.
“Eventually I was sent for a scan and we were asked to come in to discuss the results the next day.
“We were informed that I had secondary breast cancer which had spread to my spine and that a tumour was pushing on my spinal cord.
“We were also told at this point that my illness was terminal.
“We were young, just married and excited for our future together and this news was not part of the plan!”
Since then Serene has had part of her spine removed and replaced with metal rods. She is currently on daily medication and has regular scans to monitor her illness.
Despite all the challenges she faces with her health, Serene has proven herself to be a determined woman; she is now back at work and incredibly, is in training for the 26.2 mile London Marathon with Kelly.
And the couple will be raising funds for Saint Francis Hospice which has been supporting Serene since she was referred to the charity to access its specialist care services.
So far, she has accessed reflexology treatments, had advice from the physiotherapy team around improving her movement and strength to her back, and receives regular calls from its Community Nurse Specialists to make sure she has the support she needs.
“The London Marathon is something that I’ve always wanted to do and is what you might call ‘on the bucket list’,” said Serene.
“Life is too short to put these things off and we absolutely had to sign up and do it to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice as we couldn’t imagine what it would be like to go through such a traumatic experience without having the support that we have been given by this amazing charity.
“Going to visit the Hospice for the first time was surreal and daunting but from the minute we stepped through the front door we have felt nothing but support, care and positivity from all the staff.”
Kelly ran the iconic marathon a few years ago and at the time vowed never to do it again, but she is looking forward to running alongside Serene.
“There was absolutely no way that Serene was going to do the marathon and not have me holding her hand as we cross the finish line,” said Kelly, who works as a civil servant.
“We cannot wait for the actual day.
“It’s going to be hard work and emotional but we couldn’t think of a better event or a better charity to raise money for in the process.
“We know it is going to be a slow and long run but I think that we will complete it in around 7 hours, but who knows, we may just smash this!”
To sponsor Kelly and Serene visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/kelly-serene-panayi