A DORSET mum who is recovering from throat cancer is calling on men and women to Walk All Over Cancer by taking 10,000 steps a day during March - and help raise money for vital research.

Ali Richards told how her life was turned upside down after a lump in her neck which she initially thought was a cyst turned out to be cancer on her tongue.

Doctors in Poole revealed the bombshell news in January 2016, resulting in Ali needing intensive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment that left her struggling to swallow and barely able to talk.

Mum-of-one Ali, who worked as a marketing consultant, couldn’t eat or drink during treatment and had to be fed through a tube in her stomach.

A year later, just as she was getting back on her feet, she had to undergo major surgery on her neck to remove a cancerous lymph node, leaving her with numbness that can never be healed.

Throat cancer can be caused by the HPV virus, which affects the skin and cells lining body cavities. HPV is a common infection with around 8 in 10 people infected at some point in their lives, often without them even knowing. While in some cases the virus can just go away on its own, in can also cause problems and lead to cancer, as it did with Ali.

Ali, 57, who lives in Poole with husband Steve, has taken part in a clinical trial called HARE 40, looking at a new vaccine designed to help the immune system to recognise and attack the HPV virus before cells turn cancerous.

She’s also ploughing her energy and time in to raising awareness of throat cancer and the vital need for more research to discover better, kinder treatments for patients in the future.

Ali told how getting outside for walks, pottering in the garden and yoga have helped her get back on her feet. Last year she signed up to Walk All Over Cancer and raised more than £2,000.

As well as fundraising, Ali now helps in a buddy scheme for other patients diagnosed with throat cancer in Poole hospital, where she was treated, and also works locally as a restorative justice volunteer. She’s also training as a life coach.

She said: “I wanted to give back and volunteering has been my way back in to the world. Being diagnosed with cancer forces you to confront your own mortality. It certainly knocks your confidence and leaves you feeling vulnerable.

“Nothing is ever normal again – it’s now the new normal as I call it.

Jenny Makin, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for Dorset, said: “Signing up to Walk All Over Cancer is a great way to kick-start a healthier lifestyle, now that Spring is just around the corner.

“Walking 10,000 steps is equal to about five miles, based on the average person’s strides. That’s quite a challenge for many people. But adopting small lifestyle changes – from walking to work or taking the stairs instead of the lift – can help make the goal feel achievable.

To sign up now go to cruk.org/walkallover