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‘I’m still here, doing this’: rider gets placed in event three days after chemotherapy

A rider who jumped clear across country to finish fifth in an event three days after she underwent chemotherapy said crossing the finish line was “the best feeling ever”.

Jayde Payne was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in early August, but was determined her eventing season would not be cut short.

So although she had her sixth session of chemotherapy last Wednesday (23 October), she was competing at Tweseldown last Saturday on her 10-year-old gelding Will Splash.

“It was a bit of a shock to be diagnosed but I’ve just taken it in my stride really,” Jayde told H&H. “I’d had no symptoms, just a lump in my neck so I went to the GP and they found more lumps – so I went to a specialist, had a biopsy, and they said that’s what it is.

“I’ve just looked at it like it is what it is; there’s nothing I can do about it so let’s just crack on and get better.

“Getting diagnosed would have cut my season short so I thought ‘No, I want to carry on, I’m fine to do one more’.”

Jayde ,who has also been hopping hedges out hunting since her diagnosis, has kept “Baz” fit throughout her treatment so far.

“For the first six to seven days, it makes me feel really hungover, and exhausted,” she said. “But if I’m tired, I just lunge him, and whenever I’ve felt good enough, I’ve ridden.

“I’m not going to stop doing what I want to do, stop living my life, just because I’ve got cancer.”

Jayde, who had been competing at 100cm level but dropped down to 80 for this unaffiliated event, lives near Tweseldown but an 8am dressage time meant she was up at 5.30am.

“I didn’t feel too bad because I just kept going,” she said. “It was only when I got home and sat down that it hit me!

“I had to warm up in the pitch dark as he can be a bit enthusiastic so he needs a good 40 minutes and it was blowing a gale so I was pleased with a 31.3 dressage.”

Baz had two poles showjumping – “which is very good for him; he was having 24 faults last year” – and then went clear inside the time across country to finish fifth.

“It was amazing; he’s a cross-country machine who’d go round on his own,” she said. “It was the best feeling ever; I thought ‘I’m still here, doing this despite what everyone said’ and how it felt when I crossed the finish line – I squealed with excitement.

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“It was awesome and to get placed was the icing on the cake; I hadn’t expected that.”

Jayde said her “supercob” will now have a month off after their event, which raised over £600 for Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity, and do some hacking over the winter. Her chemotherapy is due to finish in January, after which she hopes to crack on ready for next season.

“My mid-term scan has come back all clear; the doctors said they were going to cure me, not treat me,” she said.

“I’ll be hacking him out in December and January, in hope we’ll both be ready to start next season in full health.”

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