A FORMER police officer who is battling cancer for a third time is being supported every step of the way by her best friend.

Viv Pow, who retired from Durham police in 2014, is currently undergoing treatment for inoperable stage 4 bowel cancer.

It is the third time the 57-year-old has battled cancer – and the third time that best friend PC Tracy Kirk has been by her side throughout.

The pair met while working for the force in Darlington, in 2000, and have become inseparable ever since.

In recent years Viv battled hard to overcome bowel cancer twice, while also running several marathons, raising thousands of pounds for charity, and raising awareness of bowel cancer.

This year, in honour of her best friend, Tracy will embark on a series of running challenges in the to raise money for the charity Cancer Research UK.

“Viv is the wind beneath my wings – she really is the most wonderful, positive and supportive person you could ever meet,” said Tracy, who is currently a beat officer stationed in Darlington.

“Right now, she is facing the hardest challenge she has ever had to overcome, but still has her trademark smile on her face and remains so positive, no matter how difficult things get.

“I wanted to spread a little bit of Viv’s positivity and enthusiasm for life while doing something good, so came up with this challenge, which we’ve named Viv’s Positivity Challenge.

“I hope that by doing these events it inspires people to challenge themselves and experience new things – it was Viv who got me into running in the first place and she always encourages me to believe in myself.

“Living with cancer is still living, and Viv is proof of that.

"We should all try to be a little more Viv.”

Tracy will take part in the Brighton Marathon in April, Total Warrior in Leeds in June, an ultramarathon in the summer, the Great North Run in September, and the London Marathon in October.

Viv, a mother-of-two, said: “My experience with cancer has given me tremendous gratitude for savouring each and every day, but I have always tried to enjoy life.

“I’ve always considered myself to be health conscious and have always kept fit and active and eaten a healthy diet.

"That is why it came as such as shock to be first diagnosed in October 2012, at the age of 48 with no family history of the disease.

“My first two cancers were diagnosed and treated early, and that is the reason why I am here and able to live life to the full – early diagnosis is key to increasing survival rates.

“I am absolutely honoured that Tracy is taking part in these challenges because of me, and I hope together we can raise further awareness of bowel cancer and help others with the disease live long and happy lives.”

To make a donation to Viv’s Positivity Challenge in aid of Cancer Research UK, visit the online fundraising page justgiving.com/crowdfunding/vivspostivitypower

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Darlington Facebook page for all the latest in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news updates from right across the region straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter here.

Have you got a story for us? Contact our newsdesk on newsdesk@nne.co.uk or contact 01325 505054