When Fiona Stevenson was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was up for the challenge. Being a fighter she took measures to battle the disease; this included having a mastectomy. Upon recovering she was then left with not only hip dyplasia that delegated her to a wheelchair but further she "had lost all of [her] self-confidence," Stevenson points out. In an effort to regain a portion of the active lifestyle she had been accustomed to, she sought out possibilities but was coming up short due to her reliance on the wheel chair. Her mind then drifted back to the days she had happily spent in her swimsuit on the weekends and she thought perhaps that "would bring some normality back to [her] life".
Because of her procedure she had to be outfitted with a special mastectomy swimsuit which made her even more self conscious, but the staff at the pool complex were willing to make her return to the water as comfortable as possible. They offered her more privacy while changing in the locker room, but upon getting into the pool Stevenson was moved to thinking there ought to be more she could do to make this very same ordeal easier for anyone else in a similar situation.
She then contacted the her local council's co-coordinator who pointed her in the direction of several organisations working with fellow wheelchair bound or handicapped individuals. From there the 'buddy system' was born and in February of 2009 Stevenson was the first buddy to then team up with a fellow swimmer fighting their own battle.
Together they were able to have easier access to pools around the Wrekin and Telford regions, but more importantly they had the moral support of a fighter just like themselves.
Yet Stevenson's journey doesn't end there and in November of 2009 she entered into the 100m event in the Rotary Disabled Sports Team Championships. "I was tired after my effort but I did it in...wait for it...3.27 minutes. I usually do a length a minute in normal swimming conditions," she says. Yet while she may have faster times under her belt, the biggest achievement was not the statement made in the pool but the very fact she had the courage to enter.
She is an inspiration to anyone facing their own battles and giving hope and confidence to others in her 'buddy program'.