Jo Butterfield is determined not to let a breast cancer diagnosis derail her bid for 2026 Paralympic Games glory on the Italian ice.
The Glasgow-based 44-year-old joined the British wheelchair curling squad last year, switching from the club and discus throw, having won gold at the 2016 Rio Games.
“The plan hasn’t changed and my mindset is 100% I want to be a Paralympic gold medallist at Milan Cortina,” said Butterfield as she prepares to begin chemotherapy this week.
“Every day I wake up as I have done for the last however many years, I ask myself what can I do today to help that happen?
“For the next wee while, I will continue looking at what I can do today to make that happen and to follow the doctors’ advice and to do the things that I need to in order to get well.
“I don’t know what tomorrow or the next week is going to look like or how healthy am I going to be, but my plan, which will probably change a few times, is to try and train as much as possible.
“I will do what I can when I can, as much as I can. I have told my team-mates to not stand easy, they need to keep going and they need to know that I am going to be champing at the bit to get my spot on that starting line-up in 2026.”
Butterfield, originally from Yorkshire, was paralysed in 2011 following an operation to remove a spinal tumour.
She started her sporting rehabilitation by playing wheelchair rugby before switching to athletics and has her sights on becoming the first British athlete to win gold at both a summer and winter Paralympics.
“I have had to go through life changing experiences before and I realised then, if you don’t get going yourself no-one is going to do it for you,” she said.
“I have always been very competitive and very stubborn, so if someone tells me I can’t do something I will try my hardest to prove them wrong. I suppose it is that kind of attitude, someone tells you that cancer has come looking, my response is well I am going to beat it then.
“I think this one is different in that I realise I cannot do this by myself and that team is really important.
“They are what hold me together just now and I can’t explain how the last few weeks have been, but coming into training is the only time I have not thought about breast cancer. I have thought about curling, I have thought about Jo the athlete.
“Having that change of scenery around me has been so positive. So at the same time this is a big thing going on, having those people and the sport around me has just taken the pressure off, made me continue to just be myself.”