Breast Cancer Patient to Swim Length of Channel for Yorkshire Cancer Research

07 February 2017

A BREAST cancer patient from Harrogate is preparing to swim the length of the English Channel to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research. 

Karen McMillan-Jones hopes to inspire others by completing the 22-mile challenge in the swimming pool at the town’s Nuffield Health Fitness & Wellbeing Gym.  
The 55-year-old, who has been medically retired from her job in the Women’s Unit at Harrogate District Hospital following her cancer diagnosis, will begin her swim on Tuesday, February 21 and is aiming to finish the distance - a total of 1,804 lengths - in less than a month. 

Breast cancer patient Karen McMillan-Jones is swimming the length of the English Channel to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research

Karen said: “Since being diagnosed with cancer I’ve been on a mission to become as fit as possible through incorporating lifestyle changes to my diet and physical activities. I decided to join a gym and went for an induction session at Nuffield where I was shown how to use the cardiovascular equipment and weights. But I’ve always been a bit of a swimmer and the pool was beckoning more. I feel like I can keep going for ever and ever. I found myself going in the pool almost every day. 

“A friend told me that her daughter had swum the equivalent of the Channel and I decided that would be a great challenge for me. I thought I’ve got cancer, I’ve faced chemotherapy, and if I can go through that there’s nothing I can’t do. I decided to raise money for Yorkshire Cancer Research because I want the money to stay in our region and benefit people I know.”

Karen was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her liver in January 2016. She began a course of chemotherapy in February, which lasted for more than four months. She is now taking a hormone therapy to contain the cancer while attending regular check-ups.

Karen is aware that her treatment has been palliative, meaning her cancer may never be cured, but she is currently feeling well and is keen to live life to the full. She has also balanced her diagnosis with caring for her elderly mother, who suffers from dementia. 

Karen said: “When you get a cancer diagnosis you realise what’s important in life. I’m lucky to have had great support from my family and friends, and my faith has also got me through it. Whatever’s around the corner I’m going to face it with a positive attitude, and I hope that through my fundraising I can inspire people. Cancer isn’t a death sentence anymore.”

Louise Robinson, Regional Fundraiser for North Yorkshire at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We’re incredibly proud that Karen has chosen to raise money for our charity. She’s been a huge inspiration to us all and we’re amazed by the way she has faced her cancer with such positivity. 

“The money she receives in sponsorship will help to improve cancer outcomes in Yorkshire by raising awareness of cancer and how to prevent it, promoting screening programmes to increase early detection and funding innovative research projects. We wish Karen the very best of luck in her Channel swim – we know she can do it.”

To sponsor Karen, please visit For more information about fundraising for Yorkshire Cancer Research, see




Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email:

Notes to Editors

  • Harrogate-based Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
  • We are committed to reducing the devastating impact of cancer on the lives of people living in Yorkshire.
  • Our mission is to work in partnership, fund research and support initiatives that will help people in Yorkshire avoid, survive and cope with cancer.
  • Current statistics show that 575 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week. Incidence and mortality rates are higher than the England average due to social deprivation, post-industrialisation and lifestyle choices but also availability of healthcare services and difficulties accessing early diagnostics, clinical trials and the latest treatments.
  • We aim to:
    • Be the leading authority on cancer in Yorkshire, understanding the problems and priorities in the region and sharing knowledge with partners.
    • Raise awareness of cancer and how to prevent it by working in local communities, schools and colleges, sports clubs and with other health-related organisations.
    • Promote screening programmes and fund research that can improve the diagnosis of cancer so we can detect and treat it at the earliest opportunity.
    • Invest in innovative research projects at every stage of a cancer patient's journey.
    • Campaign for fair and equal access to the very best healthcare services and a greater share of the money spent nationally on research.
  • For further information, please visit or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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