A FORMER nurse who was diagnosed with throat cancer only two days after retiring has vowed not to live her life under a “cancer cloud” as she prepares to take part in the fifth annual York 10k.

Phyl Underwood left her 35-year nursing career in July and took voluntary redundancy from Bootham Park Hospital – full of plans for her future.

When two days later she was told by doctors she had thyroid cancer, Phyl, 52, said she felt “utter disbelief”.

“I was so shocked. It was a mixed bag of emotions. I didn’t know what I was more scared of – cancer or being retired. I was looking to my future then this. I felt utter disbelief.” Two gruelling operations and intensive radio iodine treatment followed and Phyl, of Fulford, has now been told her prognosis is positive.

“I have been given the all-clear for now,” she said. “With thyroid cancer a lifetime of treatment follows, but I have had a full body scan and the cancer has not spread.”

Phyl said it was after she was given a provisional all-clear that she decided to give herself something to aim for.

Feeling sluggish after her treatment, Phyl decided she wanted to get fit – and after hearing positive feedback from friends who took part in the 2012 Jane Tomlinson 10k – she decided to set the 2013 race as a goal.

“I thought at the very worst I could walk it,” she said. “ But I have joined a gym and I am really pleased with my training so far. I managed to run 2k on the treadmill so far. I was just determined not to live my life under a cancer cloud.”

Phyl is set to run the ten-kilometre race in aid of St Leonard’s Hospice.

Phyl now volunteers for the hospice’s shop in Fulford and hopes to raise as much money as possible for the charity. She is also encouraging other would-be-runners to sign up and take part in the fifth annual Asda Foundation-sponsored event.

“Just get up and do it,” she said. “It is a fantastic event. It doesn’t matter if you walk or run – it is a great event to be part of.”

The event starts at 9.30am Sunday, August 4, at York Racecourse. You can enter online at