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    Muscles are not Harvey’s biggest strength! Muscles are not Harvey’s biggest strength!

    LEAH HARVEY and the placegetters of a Strongest Woman Competition - Photo Nicole Stone

    GIVEN her passion for lifting heavy objects, it is reasonable to assume that’s Leah Harvey’s biggest strength. Add the fact she recently won a... Muscles are not Harvey’s biggest strength!

    GIVEN her passion for lifting heavy objects, it is reasonable to assume that’s Leah Harvey’s biggest strength.

    Add the fact she recently won a Strongest Woman Tournament, arriving at that conclusion doesn’t take much of a leap.

    But the truth of the matter is Harvey’s biggest strength has nothing to do with her muscles or her capacity to carry all the shopping from the car in one load.

    Harvey’s power derives from within.

    To put it in Aussie terms, Harvey “has got plenty of heart”.

    The South Australian horseman has proven just how much ‘ticker’ she possesses but battling breast cancer – twice!

    Diagnosed with the dreaded condition five years ago, Harvey underwent the exhausting process to rid her body of the potentially fatal ailment.

    “I picked up a lump five years ago, which I had checked out,” Harvey said. “It required surgery to be chopped out.

    “I then went through radiotherapy and seemed to be all clear.”

    During the ensuing years Harvey returned to her passion of running, with half-marathon ‘fun runs’ the main focus.

    Deciding to step up in distance, Harvey soon discovered she is a middle distance runner not a Hunter Cup-styled stayer.

    The reason for Harvey’s inability to see out the longer trip was sore knees, which ultimately led to a change in sport.

    “I did a lot of half marathons and tried full marathons, but my knee would give out,” Harvey explained. “It felt like someone was stabbing my knee with a fork.

    “So I went to a physio, who told me my quads are weak. As my quads were getting tired they were not holding my knee cap in place.

    “He suggested I come and train to strengthen those quads up and I haven’t had any issues since.”

    Harvey’s introduction to the Strong Women Circuit was complete, with the training taking over as her number one activity.

    “I started training in December 2016 and entered my first comp last May,” Harvey said. “It is a lot of fun and very addictive.

    “We weight and power lift with different and random objects. I’m doing it a lot more now than running.”

    As strong as her muscles had become, Harvey’s intestinal fortitude was put to the test again last December when it was discovered she had breast cancer a second time.

    To Harvey’s shock, the cancer is unrelated to her previous bout!

    “A week before Christmas I felt lump, so I got a biopsy and they told me it is a lot worse this time,” Harvey said. “It’s not the same as last time, so it’s like I caught two types.

    “It is known as Metaplastic and is very rare. Only .2 of all breast cancers are that aggressive, but I am very lucky to pick up as early as I did.

    “I went into a plastic surgeon said ‘they are trying to kill me, so take them off’, which they did.

    “I’m having chemo now and it is looking good at this stage.

    “I don’t tick too many of the boxes which pre-dispose you to cancer. I eat well, don’t smoke, rarely drink, eat fruit and vegies and look after myself, but obviously there is something in me…it’s just one of those things.”

    Just 10 weeks after her surgery, Harvey was once again competing in strength competitions.

    “I never thought that 10 weeks after a double mastectomy I’d be back doing what I love,” Harvey said. “Breast cancer sucks, but it doesn’t have to stop you.

    “Stay strong and keep as upbeat as possible, and do yourself a favour, if you have a concern, no matter how small, get it checked – it’s better to waste a bit of time at the doctors than realise when it’s too late.”

    Taking her situation into account, Harvey is thrilled to see Harness Racing SA conduct a Ladies’ Night at Globe Derby tomorrow.

    With the majority of the meeting consisting of heats of the Reinswomen’s Invitation, the evening is also about raising awareness and valuable funds for breast cancer research.

    As part of the festivities, every woman on course will receive a glass of champagne.

    Although she won’t be driving, Harvey will be represented by Alldaybliss in the fourth heat.

    “I think it’s great they are putting on the series,” Harvey said. “I have competed in them in the past…the comradery is terrific and it’s great for the sport.

    “Harness racing is one of the very few sports in the world where women compete on equal footing with men.

    “The whole night is a fantastic idea. If it brings awareness to one more woman so she doesn’t have to go down the path I am going down, the night is a success.

    “I can’t stress enough, if you have any concern, no matter how minor, get it checked.”

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    Paul Courts

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