Sue’s cancer battle leads to Race for Life

Sue Brierley at her garden centre near Craster.'Picture Jane Coltman
Sue Brierley at her garden centre near Craster.'Picture Jane Coltman

An inspirational woman who ‘looked like Gollum’s sister’ this time last year has spoken about her cancer battle and running a 10k to help others.

Sue Brierley and husband Simon took on the Stable Yard Nursery and Tea Room, near Craster, in January 2013.

Sue Brierley

Sue Brierley

But two weeks later, the 51-year-old was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent surgery, gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Now, almost a year after treatment finished, she is preparing to take part in a 10k Race for Life for Cancer Research.

“When I was told it was cancer I just thought ‘this isn’t real’,” she said.

“I could have killed Simon at taking on the nursery but in fact it was the best therapy I could have had.”

She said she would look in the mirror and compare herself to Gollum, a character in The Lord of the Rings.

“ But the nursery became my little oasis. It was so peaceful and quiet it helped to concentrate my mind away from having to go for chemo,” she said.

Knowing she would lose her hair, Sue had a ‘shaving ceremony with champers’ with her son Harry, 18, and stepson Will, 33.

Sue is also ladies secretary at Alnmouth (Foxton) Golf Club and it was there when she decided to do the run.

“I was sitting at the club one lunchtime, when I looked really bad and said, ‘I’m going to do the Race for Life next year’,” she said.

“And when I started to feel better I thought ‘yeah I’m going to do this’. It’s only when you feel better that you realise how ill you actually were.

“So I decided I wanted to give something back. The treatment I have had from everybody in the NHS was brilliant. The breast nurses would ring every Friday to ask how I was doing.

“The support from my family and friends was amazing as well.”

Sue’s friends from Foxton, Di and Isabel, took her to chemo sessions and helped make sessions bearable. And her stepdaughters Charlie, 27 and Liz, 31, would send presents to brighten up her day.

When Sue applied to do the race, at Gosforth Park on July 20, she thought she had signed up for a 5k and ended up with an entry into the 10k.

You can sponsor Sue at