A BLACKBURN mum who received life-saving treatment for cancer will be a VIP guest at this year’s Race for Life ­— and she is asking other people to don their trainers and join her.

Rachel Cummings, 39, from Darwen, will be taking part with her daughter Daisy, 10, to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, cheered on by husband Stephen and son Archie, nine.

Joining Rachel will be a group of pals, including close friend Laura Cameron calling themselves ‘Legging it for Louise’, in memory of Laura’s sister Louise Mayoh who died of breast cancer last July. They will be taking part in Blackburn Race for Life 5k on Wednesday June 26 at Witton Park at 7pm.

Rachel will set participants on their way by ringing a bell next to the main stage before joining in with her family and friends.

Rachel was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic melanoma – a type of skin cancer – in August 2017. The cancer had spread to other parts of her body, including her liver, chest and back, which meant her treatment options were limited.

She was offered a type of treatment called immunotherapy which harnesses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

Rachel was due to have four courses of combined immunotherapy – using two cancer drugs – followed by treatment with a single drug. After the first stage of treatment, Rachel felt well enough to return to work the next day in Manchester. However, shortly after beginning the second course she had a violent reaction and had to stay in hospital. Rachel had to discontinue treatment in January 2018 because of the side effects.

She said: “I was devastated. I felt like the rug had been pulled from under me. We’d just have to leave it and wait and see if the treatment had worked.”

Rachel underwent scans between January and September 2018 and each showed a gradual improvement until doctors said there was no cancer remaining. She now has regular scans and, so far, they have shown no signs of disease.

Rachel is now focused on raising awareness of melanoma and cancer and has set up her own blog called Melanoma and Me.

She said: “I’m proud to be supporting Race for Life. I first took part when I was 23 after losing one of my best friends Dawn to cancer. The treatment I received for my melanoma wasn’t available 18 months prior to me having it – thanks to research and clinical trials treatments are evolving all the time.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events. This year, for the first time, men can join in too.

Jane Bullock, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for Lancashire, said: “We hope Rachel’s extraordinary story will inspire others to take part in Blackburn’s Race for Life to help raise awareness

and valuable funds for our research.

“One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.”

Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies on the public’s support. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity was able to spend around £28m last year in the North West on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research - helping more men, women and children survive.

To enter Race for Life today go to raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.