A Darlington police officer has opened up on her main inspiration for running charity events as her 'bowel babe' best friend who is battling cancer.

Tracy Kirk, 53, has recently shared her story of supporting her best friend Viv Pow, 59, through cancer in a powerful 30-second voiceover for a Cancer Research UK Race for Life radio and YouTube advert.

The heart-warming words build a vivid picture of her love for her friend and their special relationship.

Appearing in the video, Tracy says: “Why do I Race for Life? For my very own Bowel Babe, who calls rain liquid sunshine, whose presence is like one big hug. That’s my sister from another mister. Her name is Viv and I’m racing for her.”

The Northern Echo: Tracy Kirk London MarathonTracy Kirk London Marathon (Image: RACE FOR LIFE)

The message will be heard on radio stations across the UK this spring and will also accompany a 15-second clip including photos and video on YouTube.

Tracy, who is a long-serving officer and will retire this year, and Viv, who is a retired police officer, have been firm friends since meeting at work more than 20 years ago.

Tracy has seen how vital it is to raise funds for life-saving research after Viv was first diagnosed with cancer in 2012 and then in 2021 told she had inoperable stage 4 bowel cancer.

Since then Viv, who is married to Jeff and lives near Darlington, has continued to defy the odds and has helped inspire many people with her positive attitude.

The Northern Echo: Tracy Kirk and VivTracy Kirk and Viv (Image: RACE FOR LIFE)

Spurred on by her friend, Tracy has taken part in several demanding running challenges, including marathons and half marathons, with the London Marathon and Chicago Marathon on the cards this year.

Tracy, who is married to Stephen and has sons Sam, 18 and Daniel, 16, said: “It was Viv that got me into running. She was already a keen runner and encouraged me to join her.

"Together we’ve taken part in all sorts of events, including Race for Life last year, which was a very special time. I will be taking part in the London Marathon again this year, the same week I retire from the Police. 

The Northern Echo: Tracey KirkTracey Kirk (Image: RACE FOR LIFE)

"What an emotional week that will be. I will be Facetiming Viv whilst I am running with a photo of her on the back of my t-shirt.

“Viv encouraged me to run my first marathon and ran it with me. I owe her so much and she’s just a wonderful, wonderful friend.

“She’s an absolute inspiration. Whatever she’s got, I wish I could bottle it: it’s the elixir of being a lovely friend.”

The Northern Echo: Tracy Kirk and Viv Pow Great North RunTracy Kirk and Viv Pow Great North Run (Image: RACE FOR LIFE)

Tracy is urging people to visit raceforlife.org and sign up. Money raised will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancers - helping to save many more lives.

People of all ages and abilities are invited to take part in the 5k Race for Life on Sunday, June 9 at South Park, Darlington.

Over the years Tracy’s friendship with Viv has involved laughter, running and supporting each other through good and bad times.

Tracy added: “Viv has helped me see that life is for making memories and doing good and I want to be involved in helping to raise funds for Cancer Research UK, to improve treatments that may mean Viv spends more quality time with her family and friends. I run for Viv because she can’t do it anymore.”


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When Viv, who has two sons, and three grandchildren, was first diagnosed in 2012 she underwent surgery, followed by chemotherapy.

Two years later the cancer returned and, Viv had surgery to remove her colon. She had an ileostomy and was fitted with a stoma bag.

In June 2021 she was told the cancer was inoperable and began palliative chemotherapy.

Most recently this January, Viv was told the cancer had spread to her brain.

Tracy said: “Despite her diagnosis, Viv has always had a positive outlook and made the most of life. She chooses to be positive and make her happy even in the toughest of times.”