In the past Karen ran Race for Life as a Cancer Research UK supporter … but this year will be running with her daughter as a cancer survivor.
The 44-year-old mother of two took part in numerous Race for Life events in the past and was always a keen Cancer Research UK supporter and fundraiser but never thought she might one day be diagnosed with the disease herself and run as a cancer survivor rather than a cancer supporter.
Karen was told she had cervical cancer at the age of 38, two years after she took part in her first Cancer Research UK Race for Life.
She had attended regular screening appointments at her GP practice but in 2007 the results came back as abnormal. Mrs Coles was referred for a follow-up appointment but did not imagine she would be told she had cancer.
"I knew that having abnormal cells was not unusual and so I was not unduly concerned," she said. "I had laser treatment to remove the abnormal cells and assumed everything would be fine.
"Some weeks passed and I was advised that another appointment had been made for me at the hospital. I remember thinking it was still nothing to worry about, just a routine appointment to confirm the results of my previous treatment. I was then given the news that I had cervical cancer. I was told a radical hysterectomy would be the best course of action for me and that the surgery would take place within a few weeks. I went into a state of shock."
Karen's twin sister Julie stepped in to take part in the Race for Life in 2007 and completed the course in support of her sister.
Her children, Grace and Michael, who were aged six and two at the time were too young to understand the meaning of cancer and its possible outcomes, but Grace (now 12) has now taken part in every Race for Life since her mum's diagnosis and will do so again this year alongside her aunt, family, friends and Karen herself!
Karen said: "Thanks to research I am still here. I am so grateful for the treatment that saved my life. Success stories like mine would not be possible without the work of Cancer Research UK, which in turn relies on everyone who raises money through Race for Life."
Grace said: "The Race for Life is such good fun. I want to raise awareness of all types of cancer and that is the main reason why I take part. I love my mum to pieces and to lose her through cancer would have been tragic. I am so grateful that she is here with me today."