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Rider undergoing chemotherapy enters event: ‘I won’t let cancer stop me doing what I love’

A rider who is receiving treatment for cancer has said she will not let her diagnosis stop her doing what she loves.

Jade Payne, 26, from Guildford, has entered the 80cm class at the unaffiliated Tweseldown Horse Trials on 26 October while she is undergoing fortnightly chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Jade told H&H she was given the diagnosis at the beginning of August, having found a lump in her neck in May.

“I assumed it was nothing at first but I went to the doctor in June and it went from there. I was having chemotherapy by 14 August,” she said.

“It was a shock because before that I was perfectly fine and healthy. I have good days and bad days – it’s quite up and down but having horses keeps me going.”

Jade, who previously competed to BE100 level on her nine-year-old Irish cob Baz and also hunts with her parents’ 15-year-old Irish sport horse Finn, said her mum Debbie is exercising Finn to allow her to focus on keeping Baz fit for Tweseldown.

“The chemo stays in your system for 10 days and because I get it every two weeks I sometimes I only get four or five good days before I start all over – it’s a bit of a vicious circle. When I’m having a bad time after chemo I can’t ride for a week so the horses are having a week on, week off,” she said.

“There’s days I can’t really do anything and can’t get out of bed. We keep the horses at home with our two-year-old rescue cob Ivan so we’ve had to get in some help but the days I can, I still muck out and I hope to still hunt Finn this season.”

Jade posts updates on her TeamSplash Eventing Facebook page and said she is determined to continue competing and doing what she loves.

“I’m really excited to be eventing. Baz is amazing at cross-country and we can do the dressage, but he can be a bit of a bulldozer in showjumping. He has become quite well known locally, as years ago at our first event he jumped out of the showjumping ring,” she said.

“I have three more chemo sessions before the event including one four days before so I might be feeling quite rough on the day. I chose Tweseldown because it’s 20 minutes down the road but I’m determined we won’t be coming home early.”

Jade, who is due to have her final chemotherapy session in January, is fundraising for Hannah’s Willberry Wonder Pony Charity in honour of founder Hannah Francis. Jade has passed her initial £250 target on her JustGiving page.

“Once I entered the event I decided to raise money for others like me and Willberry Wonder Pony was the perfect charity. I posted about my fundraising on Facebook and the support from others has been brilliant – even people I don’t know have donated.

“The eventing community is really amazing and give so much support which gives me more determination to complete the event and hopefully by January I will have beaten cancer.” 

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