Trish and Rachel Gale2.jpgTrish Gale is fed via a tube but that doesn’t stop her – she’s just completed her first 50k ultra marathon in just over eight hours!

Trish, who is telling her story during Dieticians Week 2024, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2015 after developing a mouth sore which didn’t heal.

She had two rounds of surgery at the Cumberland Infirmary but in September/October symptoms reoccurred and in January 2016 it was confirmed that Trish’s cancer had returned.

She underwent another operation at Newcastle to remove a very aggressive tumour and bone was taken from her leg to replace her jaw and skin to replace her tongue. Some time later Trish underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy which left her unable to swallow any food or drink as her oesophagus was fused together. She now has a tube directly into her stomach for feeding. Despite this, Trish remains positive and grateful.

She said: “At the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, seven surgical attempts were made to dilate my oesophagus unfortunately without success therefore the need for a special tube called a Percutaneous Endoscopic Gastrostomy (PEG) to be fitted. 

“At first I was very upset knowing I could never eat or drink again but I was grateful to have life. I’m very accepting of my situation now as it’s the only way to be. I have my Fortisip (Food for Special Medical Purpose) when my husband, Rich, has his meals and that works quite well.”

Trish, who lives in Keswick and lets out self catering holiday studios, is a keen runner and has just completed her first ultra marathon – 50k at Fort Augustus taking eight hours and nine minutes!

She said: “I’ve been running since 2015 although I’d always gone out hill walking.

“In 2015 I decided this was going to be the year to seriously get fit, my youngest daughter Lotte was still at school and we started with short runs and signed up for the Race for Life in Carlisle. My eldest daughter Rach was away at Uni in York but we also signed her up too. She was horrified when we told her but soon came round and we started doing park run together when we were all able.”

Speaking about the ultra marathon, Trish said: “The most difficult thing for me were the problems I had with my PEG site. It’s been very sore since January, this tends to happen when I do long runs. We’ve tried various dressings but unfortunately nothing seems to work. 

“We started training last October gradually building up the distance then tapering just before the run.

“I’d definitely do it again. Rach and I are planning to do Wales next year!” 

Nicola Storey, Head of Nutrition and Dietetics at North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Trish used a mixture of ready prepared feeds and electrolyte powder mixed with water along the route. This enabled her to ensure she obtained the right nutrients via her feeding tube to meet her energy and hydration needs for such a challenging event.”

Trish is an inspiration to others and proof that being fed by a tube will not stop her!

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