News & Updates

30 April 2021 • General

Cancer survivor puts chronic fatigue behind her to tackle Rotorua Marathon 10km

Cancer survivor Rebecca Francis hopes to put the frustration of 16 years of living with chronic fatigue syndrome behind her as to takes on the 10km event at the Rotorua Marathon on 8 May. 

The Rotorua-based radiographer was diagnosed with melanoma, which had spread to her lymph glands and lung, and was given a five-year survival rate of 10 per cent.  

But Bec survived the odds and, to celebrate her recovery in her mid-20s, trained to compete for the Christchurch Marathon. 

The preparation had gone swimmingly, only for her to wake one morning around three weeks before the big day feeling like “I’d been run over by a truck”. 

“Damn, I thought, not the time to get the flu. If only. Six months on, I was still sleeping 12-to-15 hours a day, could barely walk for 10 minutes, and had all but stopped working,” she says. 

“I was labelled with chronic fatigue syndrome. Being so active, this was hard to deal with, especially being told, ‘We don’t think you will run 10km again’.”

Recovery has been a grindingly slow process and she has faced many setbacks in her journey.

At different points over the past decade and a half, she tried to re-engage with walking and completing short runs, only to reach a “tipping point” once again. 

“Suddenly, I’d suffer fatigue and have no energy,” she explains.

“The challenge I faced was that I was advised not to decrease activity too much but this took great courage when I was worried that this would make things worse,” she adds. 

“I remember a real low moment was when a very dear friend of mine, who was going through a tough time of her own, asked if I could keep her company one evening. Unfortunately, I just had no energy at all to spend on her, and thinking back this shocks me as I am incredibly loyal to family and friends.” 

Enjoying a couple of years without any major symptoms, she has gradually returned to running.

Last year, she relocated from Melbourne – where the Kiwi had lived for many years – to settle in Rotorua. 

She joined her local “Jogging the Powerpoles” group and has advanced from a 20-minute run-walk to being able to string together longer runs. 

“I’ve had many setbacks in the past few years but now I am set for my first race in 16 years. I am so excited. I am finally ready to race again.” 

Embracing stunning running routes through the Redwoods Forest and Sulphur Point in Rotorua, she is targeting a sub-one-hour time for the 10km race. 

Crossing the finish line will be a huge moment in the 42-year-old’s life after many years of struggle. 

“I’ve labelled it the end in my long and difficult journey with chronic fatigue,” she explains.

“The journey has taught me patience and to be grateful for small victories, and running 10km in Rotorua will be a massive victory.” 

Why not join Bec and take on the challenge of the Rotorua Marathon on 8 May?

There is a distance for everyone, for more information and to enter please go to