Brave Penny up for award

WITHIN just six short months Penny Abbott's whole life was turned completely upside down.She was diagnosed with breast cancer, split up with her husband, and suffered a stroke which left her paralysed down one side.

WITHIN just six short months Penny Abbott's whole life was turned completely upside down.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer, split up with her husband, and suffered a stroke which left her paralysed down one side.

But now, two-and-a-half-years later, the determined go-getter is fighting fit and up for an award which would recognise her amazing achievements.

Ms Abbott, 49, of Chedworth Place, Tattingstone, said: “I learnt I had breast cancer in February 2005. It was terrible. I was very worried but thankfully within a fortnight I had a lumpectomy and started radiotherapy.”

But despite being on the road to recovery from the cancer, things then got even worse for the mum-of-two.

She split from her husband in August 2005 and just one month later she suffered a huge stroke, brought on by the side-effects of one of the drugs used in her radiotherapy treatment.

Most Read

She was left paralysed down her left side and spent four months in hospital.

She said: “I thought I was going to die; I couldn't move at all.

“I got through it because of my two sons, who I wanted to see grow up - I wanted to get better for them.”

By exercising regularly and pushing her body to its limits Ms Abbott has amazingly managed to walk again.

She even managed to complete the Race For Life through a combination of walking and using a wheelchair.

Next year she hopes to get round the course completely on her own.

Her amazing determination to succeed has now been recognised by her gym which has put her forward for the national Fitness First New You achievement awards.

Tomorrow she will attend a ceremony in London to find out if she has won the top prize.

She said: “I would love to win and it is great to have been put forward. Thanks to the help of my personal trainer, Darren, and my friends I have managed to chance my life from when I suffered the stroke and thought I might die.”

Have you battled adversity? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Penny's battle to walk again

After leaving hospital Ms Abbott was supported by the Icanho Centre in Stowmarket which specialises in brain injury rehabilitation where she started her battle to walk again.

She said: “There was nothing wrong with my arm or leg; they just couldn't connect with my brain.

“When you have a stroke it kills part of your brain and you have to teach another part to do the things the dead part did.

“So the more repetitive movements I did the more it sparked something in my brain and finally I was able to move my leg again.

“Seeing any improvements gets you going and I put a lot of work into it.”

After leaving Icanho Ms Abbott continued to work on improving her mobility at the Fitness First gym in Colchester, where she is still a member.

She spends one hour a week with her personal trainer, Darren Horne, where her arms are strapped to the exercise machines so her body begins to recognise the movements.

She said: “I'm not 100 per cent better - I don't have movement in my arm or ankle.

“I always used to go to the gym before I was ill and so I still like to go. I get very tired easily now though.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter