The thirty-three-year-old scientist, who is usually based in the Gilbertson lab at the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute and specialises in children's brain tumour research, has been forced to stop her lifesaving work because of coronavirus.
Despite being confined to her home, Jessica is determined to keep her fitness levels up, raise money, and take part in a home version of Race for Life.
She said: “I want to use my daily exercise time to help to raise vital funds that will be much needed after covid-19 has been beaten and we can resume normal service helping to fight cancer.”
Jessica, who has taken part in Race for Life every year since she was a teenager, was hoping to take part in the Cancer Research UK Race for Life 10K event in Cambridge on Sunday 5July, but had to rethink her plans after the much-loved event was cancelled.
Cancer Research UK took the decision to cancel the Jesus Green event to protect peoples’ health during the coronavirus outbreak but as the nation remains on lockdown, undeterred women and men are vowing to carry on and complete a Race for Life at Home challenge on their own in local countryside, neighbourhoods, gardens and behind their front doors.
Jessica, who has been using her daily exercise allowance to run each day, added: “I have been working from home for the past few weeks and running 5km every day. I will continue to do so until the government stops the lockdown.
“The pandemic has impacted our research with many experiments having to shut down – causing huge delays to important cancer research. I also know of some clinician scientists that have been heading back to the frontline to help in hospitals. We are all in a period of uncertainty during these difficult times.”
Jessica added: “The disruption to my work cannot compare to the human toll that Coronavirus has caused but it has been frustrating seeing months of work halted, cancelled or postponed. We specialise in paediatric brain tumour research and it’s important that this work continues as quickly as possible. It’s been a trying time for us all and Cancer Research UK have been massively supportive over the course of this shutdown.
“Please help Cancer Research UK help make the transition back to work for all our scientists as quickly and as easily as possible once the pandemic is under control. Every penny counts in the fight against cancer and now, more than ever, we need your support. So, if you have a garden/yard or anywhere with a bit of space, get involved and sign up for RFL/Home.”
“We are already getting people like Jessica asking about doing Race for Life at Home because they don’t want to see the charity lose out on vital funding. They feel that the fight against cancer shouldn’t stop for anything – even coronavirus. It’s truly humbling to see the response.
“At a time when it feels like everything is at a standstill, there is one thing that hasn’t stopped, cancer. So, from their homes, we’d love for supporters to join us and Race for Life at Home in these challenging times. From a run or 5K walk around the garden to limbo in the living room, there is no wrong way to Race for Life at Home.
“With no entry fee, people might choose to twerk, limbo, star jump, squat, skip, dance, or come up with their own novel way of taking part and share it with friends. The message is very much that ‘while we might be apart, we’re doing this together’. There is no wrong way to get involved and join our community.
“Those lucky enough to have a garden may choose to make use of it but whatever people decide to do, we are immensely grateful for the support, now more than ever. If the idea takes off, we could be looking at hundreds of people in Cambridge stepping forward to Race for Life at Home and perhaps collecting sponsorship to do so.”
People can visit raceforlife.org and sign up free for ideas on how they can create their own Race for Life at Home challenge. And the Cancer Research UK Race for Life Facebook page will help people feel energised with weekly live workout sessions.
Organisers are also inviting participants to join the Race for Life at Home community by sharing photos and videos on social media using the hashtag, #RaceForLifeAtHome.
Every hour four people are diagnosed with cancer in the East of England. But the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
Patrick Keely continued: “Cancer is still happening right now and we want to do everything we can to help give people more tomorrows with their loved ones.
“At a time when we’re having to keep apart from each other, there is still a way to unite. We’re urging everyone who has supported Race for Life in the past to please continue supporting us. Sadly, cancer touches almost every family at some time.
“Race for Life is a hugely moving experience as people remember loved ones lost to cancer, celebrate the lives of those dear to them who have survived or support those going through treatment.
“We encourage those choosing to Race for Life at Home to participate in whatever way they like and there are lots of ideas on the Race for Life website. We appreciate that the current situation has resulted in financial uncertainty for many people, so people should only contribute sponsor money if they feel able to.”
Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work relies entirely on the public’s generous support. The charity was able to spend over £56 million last year in the East of England on some of the UK’s leading scientific and clinical research.
Visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770. Join in and share with #RaceForLifeAtHome
Jessica’s fundraising page can be found at: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/5kadayforcruk