NAT 210107 Anna Mirska-Perry CE026-1610111865392
Cancer survivor Anna Mirska-Perry and her horse Regalo, meaning gift in Spanish, prepare for a 120kms endurance ride. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: A Polish expat living in Dubai is showing how cancer is not an excuse or an obstacle for anyone to pursue their passion.

Meet Anna Mirska-Perry, who turned an equestrian athlete after being diagnosed with skin and breast cancer.

If this were not enough, Anna is preparing for a 120km horse race on January 8, Saturday. It is the Expo 2021 Endurance Cup in Dubai International Endurance City. Needless to say, she has been preparing hard for it — riding a minimum three to four hours daily — this, despite her medical condition.

“I love horses. They are therapeutic for me. When I am riding horses, I live in the now — not my past or future. It is only my present that matters and this gives me a lot of peace,” said Anna, who owns an Anglo-Arabian horse named Regalo (Spanish word for gift). She will be taking part in the race with Regalo. “When I ride, my happy hormones are released. At the end of a race, I am smiling, I am happy and that takes my mind away from all negativity. I am a hyperactive person and riding horses calms my nerves,” she said.

She discovered her passion for horses accidentally when she enrolled her son for horse-riding classes in Poland six years ago. “My son was taking horse riding classes in Poland when he was seven years old. My love for horses began then. While I was an amateur rider in Poland, after coming to the UAE I was able to pursue my passion further.”

Three years ago, her family moved to the UAE. “I had just been diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment. My family and I moved to the UAE. I used to take my son for horse riding sessions and my passion grew. Today, I am an equestrian athlete and my son has moved on to other sporting interests,” she said.

In the last three years of her stay in the UAE, Anna has earned two stars by The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sports. “All this happened thanks to my living here in the UAE.”

Not an easy feat, as she herself admits. “In Europe, it would take me years to reach this level. But living in the UAE you have so many opportunities to participate in and push your ability, strength and endurance. It is amazing. I feel so blessed to be living here,” said Anna, speaking at a stable on Al Qudra Road in Dubai where Regalo is housed.

The message

“I just want to say that having an illness or having cancer has not stopped me from taking part in a sport that requires strength and endurance.”

Anna Mirska-Perry has earned two stars by The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI), the international governing body of equestrian sports. Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Anna just finished five weeks of radiotherapy in December after she was diagnosed for the second time with breast cancer in July. “I had been through the whole ordeal of dealing with cancer three years ago. And I felt sad that I was diagnosed with the dreaded disease once again. But this time I have my passion and horses for extra love.”

Anna said she has altered her diet to see if that would help with her cancer. “I recently turned vegan. So no meat, dairy, soya, wheat or sugar for me. And I don’t feel tired at all after a race. It is God’s will.”

Anna said she is looking for new opportunities in the New Year. Not just that, she is looking forward to achieving more success in her equestrian pursuits. “I am hoping to get a three-star from the FEI.”