Article written for the East Lothian Courier
Published 19 Apr 2012 09:25 (Link)
By Sam Berkeley and Sam Khan-McIntyre
Being diagnosed with cancer would floor anyone, but not motorcycle racer Kaye Hewins.
For just days after finding out she had the disease, the 49-year-old strapped on her helmet and leathers and roared around East Fortune’s track on her racing debut.
Watching husband Mark, 51, begin his own racing career in 2010 proved the inspiration for Kaye to give the sport a try, and even hours of chemotherapy were not enough to keep her out the saddle.
Now, having defeated her breast cancer, Kaye raced against her husband for the first time at the county circuit at the weekend, after he transferred to the Post Classics Junior class she takes part this season.
The pair, who run graphic design consultancy firm Creative Link on North Berwick’s Quality Street, put in some good performances across the five meetings, with Kaye managing a highest finish of eighth, just behind her husband, who finished seventh.
“It was a good weekend, with lots of wee battles on the track,” said Kaye. “I managed to briefly overtake Mark for about half a lap and then he got me back!
“This was our first weekend racing each other now we’ve both got the same bike [the Honda NC24 400cc].
“It was excellent fun, I’ve actually got faster this year so I was in the mix with everyone else. I’ll try to finish above my husband in some races this year but I don’t think he’ll let me! There would probably be hell to pay if I did!”
But Kaye’s battles on the racetrack pale in comparison with the battle she faced against cancer last year.
Diagnosed on April 13, she soon faced operations in May and June, chemotherapy from July until October and then radiotherapy until December 23.
The diagnosis came less than a month after Kaye had secured a racing licence for that season, but it was not enough to stop her from taking part in the action.
“The first race was the weekend after I was diagnosed and I was going to cancel it, but then I thought ‘Why should I? I feel fine,'” she said.
“I wasn’t feeling ill and the racing certainly helped take my mind off the cancer rather than worrying about it.
“Why should it stop me doing what I want to do?
“Chemo-therapy was quite tough, you feel ill and then you lose your hair so it’s not pleasant, but racing certainly helped me through.
“The tiredness was the worst thing; that was what got me a lot of the time. But doing races helped me feel better. I aim now to live life to the full and get on with it.”
The couple, who stay on the Balgone Estate south of North Berwick, bought their first motorbike in 2004 when Mark started riding.
When he started racing in 2010, Kaye was inspired to give it a try and says she was “bitten by the bug”, taking part in 15 races before the weekend’s meeting. Mark handles all the mechanical side of racing bikes and Kaye says she “couldn’t do it without him”.
She is one of only a handful of female racers at the East Fortune track, many of the other racers being in their teens.
“They probably think we’re mad,” she said. “My friends think I’m mad too but my stepdaughter thinks it’s great!”
She’s set to race again in July.
“One aim is to improve my lap times and get faster,” she said. “If I start winning then I’ll carry on.”