Topless mum runs marathons for moving reason: "People have become desensitised to it"

Topless mum runs marathons for moving reason: "People have become desensitised to it"

Topless runner Louise Butcher reopens the Lynton and Lynmouth Cliff Railway

A 50-year-old mum-of-two who is a breast cancer survivor is running topless every day to encourage women to love their bodies.

Louise Butcher was diagnosed with stage two lobular breast cancer in April 2022; stage two means the cancer had grown but not spread and lobular starts in the lobules of the breast, where breast milk is produced.

That diagnosis was given following an ultrasound - just three weeks after a mammogram showed nothing.

Louise, from Braunton, is married to her husband and they have two kids, a son currently aged 13 and a daughter aged seven.

She said: "I had a shower and was checking myself when I found a tiny little lump, it felt like it was attached to something else.

"I wasn't worried as I'd just had a mammogram, but I went to the doctors to get it checked and was referred to the breast cancer care team at the hospital.

"After I had an ultrasound, I asked if everything was fine and was told it doesn't look normal - at that moment I knew."

Louise Butcher said running while having treatment kept her going Royal Devon Hospitals Charity

Louise was told she needed to have a left-sided mastectomy, meaning her left boob would have to be removed.

She declined the offer of reconstructive surgery and was keen to have a right mastectomy as well.

Louise said: "I couldn't cope with one boob, it was just horrendous, I felt like I couldn't move on with my life.

"I was told 'no' to having the right side done too but circumstances meant I could have it in the end; I was quite lucky because when I had that off and was flat, I felt so much happier.

"Not having reconstructive surgery is a big one because it could feel like you lose that femininity, that figure, that feeling of being a woman."


#breastcancer #cancer #checkyourbreasts #run #empowerment #bodypositivity #change

A five-day course of radiotherapy followed in September, and only three days after finishing her treatment, Louise ran her first marathon.

She said: "Before I was diagnosed, I started running to help with my mental health and was training for the virtual London Marathon, where you do a tracked 26.2 mile run.

"Through my treatment, it was the only thing that remained the same.

"Everything else changed, everyone around me changed too as I had the perception of having cancer except for my family who were really supportive and balanced throughout.

"If I didn't have my training, I wouldn't have been able to get through it physically, and I definitely wouldn't have got through it mentally.

"I had radiotherapy the same week I did that first marathon, I was just so driven to do it, I healed really quickly and I put that down to running and exercise."


#breastcancer #running #women

In April 2023, she ran the 26.2-mile distance again, but this time topless, displaying the scars of her double mastectomy.

"When doing that, I didn't know what to expect, and the positivity I got was around 80 percent.

"I got some comments that showed a stigma, people saying 'I don't want to see this', 'put a shirt on', 'this is traumatic for kids', things like that.

"It sparked a discussion though and I started running topless every day around where I live, I just normalised it and as I've done so, people have become desensitised to it.

"Some of the messages I get now are unbelievable - women having mastectomies are saying it's helped them feel so much better and to accept themselves for who they are."

One of Louise Butcher's fundraising efforts was a skydive!Royal Devon Hospitals Charity

Louise has since fundraised extensively for Royal Devon Hospitals Charity so that other women and families going through what she and her family did can be helped, such as for its Fern Centre, a health and wellbeing centre for cancer patients and loved ones.

Kate Constable, community fundraiser for Royal Devon Hospitals Charity, said: "Louise is an absolute inspiration and it’s been brilliant to see her powerful message of body positivity resonate with people in North Devon, and now all over the world."

Louise Butcher reopened the Lynton & Lynmouth Railway and helped raise £2,500 for Royal Devon Hospitals Charity tooRoyal Devon Hospitals Charity

Most recently, Louise was invited as a 'local hero' to reopen the Lynton & Lynmouth Cliff Railway for the new season, a water railway that connects two villages at the top and bottom a cliff.

She ran alongside 'topless' cars, such as convertible Ferraris, which ended with her cutting the ribbon at the top of the railway in Lynton on Saturday (February 17).

Ashley Clarke, general manager of the railway, said: "Louise is such an inspirational and brave woman - the positivity she spreads is amazing and it was the best reopening day we've ever had, we're going to struggle to top that."

Louise Butcher running topless through LondonRoyal Devon Hospitals Charity

Louise's next mission is to run the London Marathon itself for the first time on April 21, having ran it virtually twice, and is in touch with the Guinness Book of World Records to be recognised as the first woman to run it topless.

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