Rider who had cancer and lost her father credits horses for her recovery

  • A horsewoman who is hoping to apply for her trainer’s licence next year, has spoken of how horses helped her to recover from breast cancer and the loss of her father.

    Camilla Greenwood said she “didn’t want to be here” and “didn’t realise how ill” she was after suffering the double blow of being diagnosed with breast cancer the day before her son’s first birthday and nursing her father through cancer of the liver, bowel and spine.

    The mother of two, who is married to Toby, has always worked with horses, studying for her HND and degree in equine studies in Ireland where she then went to work for trainer David Christie before returning to the UK to work for William Harrison-Allen for 10 years.

    Millie, 38, was on a break after having her children Georgie, four, and Joshua, two, when she was diagnosed with the illness.

    “I had a runner in a point-to-point and had just plaited and done the horses and had got soaking wet so I whizzed into the house for a shower and something made me check — I found a lump,” she said.

    “At first they thought it was a haematoma but they said to come back for a blood test.”

    Millie was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer and underwent surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which she had to have every day for five weeks.

    “It was quite a juggling act with two small children and the horses,” she said.

    While she was given the all-clear at her following check ups, the treatment had taken its toll and she said she feels “lucky to be here”, having not realised how mentally and physically ill she had become.

    She also had a second scare after experiencing symptoms of irritable bowl syndrome which doctors feared could be cancer, and had to undergo a colonoscopy three days before her father died on 6 November.

    Millie threw herself back into working with the horses, who she believes have a great deal of power to help.

    Her husband bought her a pointer called Hatari to help with her recovery, and she recently collected a second horse to train who was sent over by her old boss David Christie. They have named the horse Russell’s Delight in memory of her father.

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    She plans to have the horse, along with a string of five others, out pointing from January next year.

    “We’ll qualify that one out hunting with the Croom and West Warwick, as Dad used to start their point-to-point,” she said. “Hopefully he’ll be ready from February or March next year.

    “The horses are what I am putting all my energy into and hopefully they will help me get my name back out there. This season won’t be about making money, when you have been as ill as I have you just want to do it for your family.”

    Millie has also filled her time with hunting, taking both her children out for a full five days over half term, riding their grey ponies Minnie and Finley Finders Keepers, who is on loan from her friends Angela and Charlotte Davies.

    “The kids live for their country sports and fresh air and it keeps me busy,” she added. “The horses always give you a reason to get out of bed.”

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