A CANCER survivor from North Dorset is lacing up her running shoes to raise money for charity.

Alex Pilgrim, from Blandford, had planned to celebrate turning 60 this year with a series of challenges but all that changed when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May.

She was diagnosed after receiving the test kit which forms part of the national bowel cancer screening scheme.

But now six months on, the former teacher has undergone an operation and chemotherapy and has just completed the Dark Valley 10k at Moors Valley Country Park.

Alex, who is raising money for Bowel & Cancer Research, will next take part in the Wimborne 10 on November 19, followed by the 20k Stonehenge Stomp on January 29.

She said: “I had minor symptoms but because I’d had Lyme disease in 2015, I put it down to that.

“After a colonoscopy, things started running pretty fast. I had a tumour removed in a six-hour robotic operation at the end of May – it was Stage 3, but it hadn’t spread so I was lucky.”

Having taken up running in 2014, Alex set herself a few targets to aid her recovery, beginning with a run around the block and going back to her regular parkrun.

She is running alongside her friends at Runblandford running club, nicknamed the Combat Crew, who have helped during her illness and kept her spirits up.

Alex said: “Running with them has been a hugely motivating and positive part of my recovery. I’d be bereft without them.

“I feel I’ve turned a corner and am finally getting out of a dark tunnel.”

She chose to support Bowel & Cancer Research because she was asked to become part of a research project into bowel disease at Poole Hospital.

“The colorectal team at Poole were very efficient and supportive and I owe them a huge debt of thanks.”

Deborah Gilbert, chief executive of Bowel & Cancer Research, said: “It’s great to hear such a positive story of recovery. Our mission is to ensure that no one should die of bowel cancer, and we can only make that happen with the support of fundraisers like Alex”.

To support Alex visit bowelcancerresearch.org/fundraisers/alex-pilgrims-wimborne-10-mile-fundraising-page