This October the London Marathon took place virtually. We spoke to one of our runners, Ian Burns, who shares an emotive account of persevering through this grueling challenge. Hear how the loss of his mother at a young age and his dedication to beating this disease kept him going.

‘I noticed the buzz online around the virtual marathon and decided to give it a go myself. This was despite the horrific weather and self-imposed masochistic conditions. I’ve done several marathons, an Ironman, and so on, to raise money for breast cancer charities. So, I wanted to take the opportunity to create some good news in a year which has really lacked it. I’ve read a lot about breast cancer and its treatments. I agree with the Prevent Breast Cancer’s ethos and approach and want to support it being adopted more widely.

It was bleak. Far more bleak than previous marathons. And I chose it this way, it somehow felt more worthwhile. 25 laps around my local park on a Sunday full of rain and wind. After 17 laps or so I couldn’t keep count and it felt like 50. It’s very hard to practice how much your body and mind will start to crumble towards the back of a marathon, even basic maths and avoiding kids is a challenge. I nearly got taken out by a rogue spaniel towards the end due to my slow reactions. But you have to keep focusing on each lap, each jelly baby, each random cheer – soak them up, even if they aren’t for you and eventually you win the war of attrition. Although your body feels a bit broken, donations flood in and you know it was all worth it.

My mother died from breast cancer when I was just a toddler. It’s a disease which has changed the entire course of my life. I lost a parent before I turned two – that changes everything. I was too young at the time to know what a hero my Dad was, working full-time and trying to raise a young boy by himself. He had to make different decisions, and hard decisions as a single parent, something I’ve only come to appreciate as an adult and even now, I doubt I will ever understand the extent of it.

It’s an issue so close and so sad for us, we can barely face speaking about it at all. What I can do is fundraise to try and prevent others from experiencing the same heartbreak and challenges that we’ve had. I also lost my grandmother to breast cancer and have multiple friends who have suffered too.

To have a breast cancer free future would mean that no one had to endure the effects of the disease, the treatment of it and if that would mean no one would be left to grieve and have their lives changed, for the worse, forever, that would mean the world to me. Sadly, I can’t create a breast cancer free past, but I will always help to create that future.’

Thank you, Ian Burns, for spreading breast cancer awareness and raising over £1,600 towards our vital research. We truly value your support and dedication. Support Ian’s efforts by donating here.

Published On: November 18th, 2020 /

Would you like to share your story?

We’re always looking to speak to people who are interested in sharing their story and experience of breast cancer. It not only helps us spread awareness but can be helpful for others who are dealing with the disease. If this is a cause close to your heart and you would be comfortable sharing your journey with other supporters, and potentially the media, then please get in touch today by emailing

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About Prevent Breast Cancer

Prevent Breast Cancer is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer – we’re committed to freeing the world from the disease altogether. Unlike many cancer charities, we’re focused on preventing, rather than curing. Promoting early diagnosis, screening and lifestyle changes, we believe we can stop the problem before it starts. And being situated at the only breast cancer prevention centre in the UK, we’re right at the front-line in the fight against the disease. Join us today and help us create a future free from breast cancer. If you have any questions or concerns, email us today.