Mother trained for SAS: Who Dare Wins while having chemotherapy

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A mother who trained for SAS: Who Dare Wins while having chemotherapy says it was a ‘sign’ applications opened on day she underwent surgery for breast cancer. 

Former Olympic rower Carla Devlin, 46, from West London, appeared on Lorraine today where she told how she was diagnosed with cancer in December 2018 and had several chemo and radiotherapy sessions before undergoing surgery. 

Now Carla, who represented Britain in rowing in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is free of cancer, and appearing on the latest series of Ant Middleton’s Channel 4 endurance show, with her last radiotherapy session taking place on her casting day.

The mum told how she was ‘obsessed’ with the show while undergoing chemo, and constantly contacted the show’s production team asking to appear, because she wanted to ‘get back to herself’ as soon as possible. 

She told: ‘I got slightly obsessed with the show when I was going through chemo. 

‘One of the days I was watching one of the girls swimming under an ice cap, and I just thought, “You know what, I reckon I could have a crack at that”. 

‘I googled and found the email address of the production team and said “This is me, this is where i’m at”. I wanted to get back to me within a year of my diagnosis.

‘I didn’t hear anything from that email, but I just kept chipping away and applications actually opened on the day I had surgery and I just felt like it was a sign.’  

She told how after finally being accepted for the show, show continued to undergo chemo and radio therapy sessions, but felt the training was a relief from her illness. 

The mother explained that her cancer ‘consumed her whole life’ because people would speak to her differently, and were afraid to share anything negative about their own lives. 

She told: ‘With cancer, or any kind of illness,  it consumes your whole life. It’s the way people look at you. 

‘It’s what people talk about, people just look sad when they talk to you and they don’t want to tell you their woes. They think that yours trump theirs. So for me to go training, it felt like me.’ 

She explained that while some people have been puzzled by her choice to undergo intense training so quickly after her surgery, she feels it was a way to ‘cling to normality’.  

‘I just think when you get diagnosed with something, you just have to cling to as much normality as possible. 

‘I finished my last radiotherapy session the day before my casting day, which again felt like a real drawing a line. 

‘You know when you feel like the stars are aligned, no cancer, feeling like me. I’m just really grateful for the everyday and the ordinary.’ 

The mother told how while she’s had an ‘amazing’ time on the show, the best thing about her recovery is simply being able to keep up with her children. 

She said: ‘SAS has been amazing, but when I was going through chemo, I just wanted enough energy to keep up with the kids. 

 ‘Training for SAS – that experience, it has made me a better person. But what I’ve pined for more than anything is to keep up with them.’ 

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