In December 2017 the Bolt Running Club member was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, a type of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system and leaves sufferers more vulnerable to infection.
Now in remission, a key element of her recovery was the support she received from Macmillan Cancer Support and in particular the Move More Programme where she received one to one support from local co-ordinator Sean Hargan.
On Sunday she wants to repay that support and help Macmillan to continue helping others living with a cancer diagnosis by raising funds for the charity through completing her first marathon since her illness.
“My diagnosis instantly turned my life upside down and I initially struggled to come to terms with an illness I never expected to deal with personally,” she recalls.
“Macmillan in particular supported me and my family throughout my cancer journey, helping me understand what I was dealing with and showing me how to look after myself beyond treatment.
“I particularly enjoyed my post treatment experience and my return to fitness through the Move More Programme where I received one to one support with Sean Hargan.
“The programme was tailored to my needs and allowed me to train at a pace that suited my recovery.
“It also brings together people who are going through a similar experience so there’s a great social element of sharing stories and encouraging each other.
“I cannot thank Sean and Macmillan enough for their dedication, encouragement and support to this day and I’m delighted to get the chance to give something back after all they have done for me.”
Annette and Sean are both active members of Bolt Running Club and club mates not taking part in Sunday’s marathon will line the streets of the Walled City in support.
Sean has promised to join Annette at mile 21 at Sainsburys to help give her a lift through what will be the toughest section of the challenge.
“Sean has the patience of a saint and he knows to ignore me if I start giving out,” she laughed.
“Seriously though, it’ll be a real lift to run with him as the Bay Park is probably the hardest part of the course.
“Marathon training is always tough but this is the hardest one I’ve prepared for as I’ve been starting from scratch with my fitness.
“I’ve been training since Christmas and it’s only been over the last five weeks that I’ve really felt the benefit.
“I’ve done the Dublin Marathon three times and Walled City twice, Derry is by far the hardest but I’m looking forward to running round my home town again.”
Annette has set up a JustGiving page online called ‘Annette’s Walled City Marathon Page’ where people can donate to Macmillan Cancer Support and share the page with friends.
For more information on MacMillan’s Move More Programme for Derry and Strabane contact firstname.lastname@example.org.