Just weeks after announcing her retirement from professional cycling, former British national champion Sharon Laws today revealed that her biggest challenge has yet to come.
Following a medical biopsy of some swollen lymph notes, Laws learned that she’s suffering from cervical cancer. The illness is widespread and in a personal statement, Laws described the condition as “treatable but not curable.”
“I assumed [the swollen lymph notes] were just due to a series of colds I seemed to have had continually during the season. I was shocked to be told they contained secondary cancer tumours,” Laws shared.
Laws started chemotherapy on October 7, which will continue for the next 6 months.
“Obviously I am trying to come to terms with what is happening. Up until starting the chemotherapy I could still ride my bike and, apart from recovering from the operations I had recently, felt normal,” she said. “As a professional cyclist I’ve had my share of setbacks…I have come back each time. I hope that these experiences and my life as a professional athlete have prepared me for what will be my biggest challenge so far.”
An accomplished road and mountain bike racer, Laws turned professional in 2008 at age 33, and helped Nicole Cooke win gold in the Beijing Olympic road race that same year.
“When I took a sabbatical from work in 2008 to race with the GB National team I never imagined I would continue to race professionally for the following eight years,” Laws said in her note.
In August, Laws, now 42 years of age, decided to end career following a win at the British mountain bike marathon championships. Already a former national time trial and road race champions, this was her third national title.
“I had exciting retirement plans – learning Spanish and volunteer work in South America, bike guiding and environmental consultancy,” said Laws, who’s an environmental consultant by trade. “These will now have to be put on hold.”