OVARIAN cancer is the sixth most common cancer in females in the UK.

According to statistics from Cancer Research UK around 7,400 cases were diagnosed in 2014.

The statistics also reveal that almost six in 10 ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage in England (2014) and Northern Ireland (2010-2014).

Cathy Williams counts herself as one of the lucky ones. “I was very lucky in many ways because my cancer was caught by luck.”

Cathy, from Bradford, explains how she initially went to her GP after noticing some spotting. She was sent for an ultrasound scan which revealed the spotting was caused by polyps - but it also revealed a cyst on her left ovary which, following further investigation, was diagnosed to be ovarian cancer.

“They didn’t think it was cancerous because they normally diagnose ovarian cancer with a blood test but the blood test came back normal,” says Cathy.

It was only when a biopsy was carried out that the cyst was discovered to be cancerous.

“I was devastated. It was a real shock. I was only 34 at the time and you don’t expect that sort of thing to happen at that point in your life.

“The death rates for ovarian cancer were horrific because normally it gets caught too late. Thankfully it was all caught nice and early.”

Cathy underwent two operations. Fortunately she didn’t have to undergo any follow up treatment but she has frequent checks.

During her experience, Cathy received emotional support from Cancer Support Yorkshire, a small independent charity based in Bradford and Skipton which provides practical and emotional support to those affected by cancer, and the charity Macmillan.

Determined to give something back, Cathy set herself 12 months of challenges to help raise money for the two charities.

“I wanted to give myself a kick-start; get myself moving again and stop feeling sorry for myself. I also wanted to give back to the two charities who helped me when I needed them,” she says.

January - the month when many start the New Year making all kinds of New Year’s resolutions - was the perfect place to start.

Cathy embarked on her first fundraiser - an 8km night run organised by the National Trust at Nostell Priory, Leeds. “It was really fun,” she recalls.

In February she undertook a 10k run along the beach outside Liverpool and in March she participated in the rather more gruelling Major Series Army-themed obstacle course at Bramham Park, Leeds.

The 10k Gin Run in London - culminating with a gin cocktail - was April’s challenge and Cathy also decided to slot in another challenge in the same month - The Bubble Rush, organised by St Gemma’s Hospice at Harewood House near Leeds.

In May she undertook the Coast to Coast walking from St Bede’s in the Lakes to Robin Hood’s Bay, and in June she undertook the Great North Swim in Windermere.

The Leeds 10k was July’s challenge and Cathy also undertook the 8k Aleathon in Huddersfield.

Cathy’s August challenge saw her return to her roots in her home city of Norwich where she undertook a 10k.

The most gruelling challenge was the Lyke Wake Walk - a 45 mile trek across the North Yorkshire Moors. “It was boggy, we completed it in 21 hours. We started it at 6am and finished it at 3am the following morning. That was hard,” recalls Cathy.

Adding: “It went on and on and on.”

She says while she was relieved to have finished it she also found it satisfying. “It was really rewarding,” says Cathy, crediting her supportive friends who joined her in the challenge.

“Everyone was really supportive of each other. We pushed each other through.”

In October Cathy saddled up and cycled from Liverpool to Leeds along the canal covering 127 miles in two days.

November saw her participate in the 10k Abbey Dash in Leeds and this month she will undertake her final fundraiser - the 5k Santa Dash on December 10 in Leeds.

Following her final fundraiser Cathy is looking forward to a well-earned rest. "I would like a bit of time off at the beginning of next year. Trying to fit all that in is hard work,” she says.

But her efforts have paid off raising £1,000 for Cancer Support Yorkshire and £700 for Macmillan.

“People have been very generous. I am really proud of it and it’s nice to know it will be going to help people who haven’t been as lucky as I have.”

Linda Enderby, fundraiser for Cancer Support Yorkshire, says: “Cathy is an extraordinary woman, most of us in good health would struggle to complete the challenges she has set herself so far. I personally find it quite moving when the people we are helping are so passionate about giving something back.”

Adele Hopkins, Macmillan Cancer Support fundraising manager for Bradford, Calderdale & Airedale, says: “Cathy is one of the most inspirational ladies I have ever met. To go through the biggest fight of your life and decide that you want to fundraise after the support you have received is just fantastic. I think Cathy is just TRULY AMAZING! and every time we catch up and I hear about the next event she has planned, it takes my breath away, her determination and focus is just incredible! I am so thankful to Cathy for her fundraising.

"Even after her busy year of challenge events, Cathy has decided to sign up to our local Action Team, continuing to support us. The local Action Team is volunteering opportunity where local people can get involved giving any free time they have to us raise money and campaign for improved local cancer care.

"Almost half of us will get cancer in our lifetime, and it is amazing fundraising like Cathy is doing that helps us to continue to fund all the services we offer. We may be a national charity, but we have a very local presence. Our office in Shipley houses, some of our Macmillan Support Line staff, our Financial Guidance team and Welfare Rights team. 99% of our income comes from fundraising events like Cathy’s, and at Macmillan, we know cancer can affect everything. Your body, your relationships, your money, everything. We are here to help people live life, no matter what. We give the support people need to hold on to who they are and what’s important."

For more information call Cancer Support Yorkshire on 01274 776688 or visit cancersupportyorkshire.org.uk or visit macmillan.org.uk