Sabine Schmitz had three-year battle with cancer – seven signs of the disease to spot

Bill Turnbull shares message with Prostate Cancer UK

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Sabine Schmitz, 51, was a German professional motor racing driver for both BMW and Porsche. Sadly, the star passed away last month after a three-year battle with cancer. The world mourned for the ‘Queen of the Nurburgring’ and one of the most famous female racing drivers.

Schmitz was best known to British audiences for her appearances on the BBC’s Top Gear programme, including races with Jeremy Clarkson, Chris Evans and Paddy McGuinness. 

In July 2020, Schmitz revealed via a Facebook post that she had been suffering from “an extremely persistent cancer” since late 2017.

The motor racer explained that she had sought treatment and her condition was improving, but she had relapsed and would be undergoing treatment again.

The NHS listed the seven signs of cancer to look out for which include:

  • Coughing, chest pain and breathlessness
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Bloating
  • Lump in your breast
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Bleeding
  • Moles

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Why are cancer rates rising?

One of the biggest risk factors for most cancers is getting older with more than three-quarters of people being diagnosed with cancer in the UK being 60 and over.

Cancer largely affects the elderly due to it being a disease of the genes with the bits of a person’s DNA code which hold the instructions for all of the microscopic machinery inside our cells.

Over time, an accumulation of mistakes develops in this code which scientists can now see them being stamped in cancer’s DNA.

These mistakes in turn kickstart a person’s cell journey towards becoming cancerous.

As age expectancy increases the more time there is for these errors to build up which means there are now more people than ever living to an age where they have a higher risk of developing cancer.

By following a healthy lifestyle your risk can be significantly reduced which means avoiding smoking, eating processed foods and ensuring you get some form of physical activity in your life.

Writing on Facebook, Schmitz said: “Dear friends of professional motor sport, many of you have probably wondered why I was on the list of participants on our Porsche in the NSL and then didn’t drive after all.

“I would like to provide enlightenment here; I think I owe it to my/our fans!

“Since the end of 2017, I have been fighting an extremely persistent cancer that has not been eliminated with the resources so far. It got a little better – but now it’s come back with full force.

“Now I have to draw all the strength and nerve to master the next powerful therapies … hoping something [good] will happen. So, I say goodbye ‘probably’ for the first time this season.

“In addition, I would like to thank everyone for their help and support in my everyday life, and encouragement in writing!

“So, sweethearts, now you have an update. Please stay healthy and cheerful, see you at the ‘Ring.” 

The racing team which Schmitz founded with her husband Klaus Abbelen, 60, a fellow driver, announced her death last month describing her ‘brave fight against cancer.’ 

“Klaus Abbelen and all relatives and friends are deeply saddened by the immeasurable loss,” Frikadelli Racing said in a statement.

The Nurburgring, her home track, mourned the loss of ‘its most famous female racing driver’, writing on Twitter: “We will miss her and her cheerful nature. Rest in peace Sabine!”

Clarkson, who hosted Top Gear until 2015, wrote: “Terrible news about Sabine Schmitz. Such a sunny person and so full of beans.”  

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