It’s On! Hayley’s inspirational story of triumph over adversity recognised through new award
A SEVENOAKS woman has become the first person in the south east to be named as an ‘On Advocate’ by the ‘On’ sports brand which has launched a nationwide campaign to recognise people who are an inspiration to others.
The company teamed up with Bat & Ball Sports and The Better Body Group gym in Sevenoaks to identify someone who would fit this bill in the area and after drawing up a shortlist, they nominated Hayley Rawlings-Browne.
When My Sevenoaks Community caught up with Hayley to talk about her being awarded the On accolade of ‘On Advocate’, she had just completed one of her regular training sessions at the Better Body Group gym.
Her fit and toned look would be the envy of most people, but what is not obvious is that to achieve this look, Hayley, aged 48, has had to overcome an incredible list of medical problems involving herself and her two sons, any one of which would have floored most people.
Over the last 10 years Hayley has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome, which required operations on both hands, and then the breach birth of her second child caused massive damage to her internal walls which meant complete reconstructive surgery.
On top of this, after 18 different blood tests, it was discovered she had hyperparathyroidism and during investigations, doctors found she had two tumours in her neck. Hayley had to undergo chemotherapy to shrink the growths before an operation to remove them. But during this operation the surgeons found another enormous tumour in her chest.
Hayley takes up the story. “When I had my son Raife, he was such a big baby he tore most of my internal organs. We nearly lost Raife and we nearly lost me at one point. The damage to my insides meant I could not go to the toilet properly for two years. It also meant the threat of a hysterectomy which meant also coming to terms with the possibility of losing my womanhood. I have had to have so much rebuilt inside that I’m a bit like robocop!
“When I later went in for surgery to have the tumours removed, I even wrote letters to my sons as I didn’t think I was coming out. I had a gut feeling they were going to find something else – and they did. They found the large tumour in my chest which they didn’t even know was there.
“While they were doing the initial blood tests to try and find out what was wrong with me, I started losing loads of weight and was collapsing all over the place. I never seemed to have any energy or strength. I was told it would have been the tumour in my chest that was sapping my energy.”
After the operation to remove the tumours, Hayley was still very fragile and had to have vitamin D injections in an attempt to get her strength back up. But it was a chance meeting with Hannah Cole, a local personal trainer, that really helped put Hayley on the road to regaining her strength and fitness.
Hayley said: “We just hit it off. Hannah is having to overcome her own health problems, so I started training with her. She helped me get my strength back and now we train each other. She got me strong again, so now I am there for her as well.
“I think I knew I had to get fit so I would be strong enough to look after my children. My 11-year-old son Hugo has CRMO, a rare bone condition that affects one in six million. I have to do things like carry him downstairs in the morning which I never would have been able to do when I had my own problems. I am fitter and stronger now than I was in my 30s even before I started having medical issues. It’s not just a physical strength, it’s a mental strength.
Hayley says that her own experiences means she will do anything for charity and has already helped raise thousands of pounds for several different worthy causes.
She said: “This year I have got behind diabetes UK as my son Raife, who is now eight-years-old, has type 1. And I still do fund-raising for the charities that support Hugo’s condition as well.
“I am very flattered to be nominated for the ‘On Advocate’ award as I am sure there are more deserving candidates out there.
“One of my personal heroes was my aunt who sadly died from bowel cancer. So, when I survived my own medical problems, I was even more determined to enjoy life. Life is not a rehearsal. We have one chance at it and one chance only. My advice to everyone is don’t be afraid to try new things, and never give up.”
On will be supporting Hayley with shoes and clothing for her gym work. Marietta Horvath, who is the south east sales rep for the company, said: “Hayley is a true winning personality. At On we believe that it is important to recognise and support characters like hers.
“Even though On is the fastest growing running brand with sponsored world champions, running and triathlon legends, we shall never forget about the every day heroes. Hayley sets an example for the community in Sevenoaks and inspires others around her. Together with Bat and Ball Sports and the Better Body Group, On is really proud to support the ‘woman who would not quit’ and, to use one of my company’s sayings, is ‘Never Not On’.”
Bat & Ball Sports: www.batandballsports.co.uk
The Better Body Group: betterbodygroup.co.uk
On Running: www.on-running.com