A Very 2020 Race for Life

Cancer nurses Lucy, Jill and Charlotte are taking part in a Very 2020 Race for Life
Addenbrooke's Hospital cancer nurses join special Race for Life weekend in September to raise funds for life-saving research.

Specialist cancer nurses from Cambridge are inspiring people to unite against cancer by taking part in a special Race for Life this September. Jill Barker, Charlotte Granville-George and Lucy MacDonald, who all work in the acute oncology service at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, are kickstarting their own fund-raising marathon by joining thousands of supporters across the country with a special broadcast on the Cancer Research UK Race for Life Facebook page.

The nurses, who are walking a gruelling 26 miles over two days for Cancer Research UK, are supporting all cancer patients, including family and friends who have recently been diagnosed with the disease, as they try to raise vital funds for much needed life-saving research.

For the first 5k of their walk, Jill, Charlotte and Lucy will be taking part in the charity’s new fundraising initiative a Very 2020 Race for Life. The special live online event starts at 9.30am on Saturday September 26th is being held to unite Race for Life participants after all events across the country were cancelled to protect the country’s health during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The charity is expecting a staggering £160 million drop in income with a £44 million cut to life-saving research funding. To help tackle the devastating loss, undeterred women and men are vowing to raise funds by completing their own Race for Life 5K in their nearest green space. They plan to take part outdoors either alone or in small, socially distanced groups - but all on the same day - to share their experience with thousands of other people who are also taking part in the event around the UK.

The new campaign, which supporters can sign up free for by visiting raceforlife.org, follows on from the charity’s Race for Life At Home initiative, which was launched in April to encourage supporters to keep fit and active from home by devising their own challenges or joining Race for Life Facebook Live events.

Jill, a specialist in head and neck cancer, who along with Lucy and Charlotte will walk the full 26 miles in Cardiff, while her 16-year-old daughter Lucy, and family friend Dawn Roskilly will walk 10k locally, said: “When the Shine Walk was cancelled we had to rethink our plans so we decided to see how much money we could raise by completing a marathon.  Then when we heard about a Very 2020 Race for Life and the online event it seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine the two and coincide the start of our marathon on the same day.  It’s great way for people to come together and show unity, to show you’re still fighting for a good cause “

The Addenbrooke’s nurses who are heading to Cardiff for their marathon hope to raise around over a £1000. Jill, who has worked in nursing for more than 25 years, and is currently supporting her stepmother who has pancreatic cancer and her father with reoccurrence of bladder cancer, added: “We see day to day the struggle and the fight against cancer and how much work goes into cancer pathways - not just clinically but also psychologically for the patients and families. On a personal level my incentive for taking part is my step-mum Angela and my father, while for my daughter Lucy, it’s for her grandparents. We hope to raise extra funding in general for the fight against cancer. It has been quite a tough year for everyone with Covid and it’s nice to try and give something back especially for a charity like Cancer Research UK which has had a massive drop in income.”

Thanks to the generosity of people across Cambridgeshire, Race for Life participants last year helped to support vital research to develop gentler and more effective treatments for cancer – a disease that will affect one-in-two people in the UK at some stage in their lives. 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.

Jill added: “In my job I can see the benefit of where funding goes, not only in patient care but also in research moving forward. There are so many aspects of care for this patient group, it’s not just about having treatment and it’s over for patients and their families. When health care professionals look after cancer patients – a holistic approach, looking after the patient’s clinical and psychological needs is really valuable.  When we work within the oncology setting we are fortunate enough to really get to know who you are treating and their families while they on their stressful journeys, which I think is very important and it’s a really rewarding job.”

Jill’s colleague, Lucy MacDonald, who specialises in acute oncology and haematology, is walking with her mother Julie, in support of her aunt who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, she said: “I’m walking for my aunt who has been diagnosed with aggressive incurable brain tumour which has been very distressing. It’s so important we fundraise for research and the fight continues. The only way we can beat cancer is through continued research. A poignant example is coronavirus because, even with modern day technology and fantastic scientists across the world, we can’t immediately come up with a cure -these things take time to evolve and that’s the same for cancer.

“Thanks to research you can see a significant growth in the types of therapies available to treat cancer and how treatments are getting more precise. There are definitely more and better ways of treating side effects now, so things are constantly evolving and we are seeing improvements all the time. A lot of the treatment we provide is to do with support input as well and supporting families which is vitally important and, until we get some kind of answers for a cure or a better standard of life for cancer patients, research and fund raising must continue.”

Patrick Keely, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the East of England, said: “COVID-19 has made the fight against cancer even harder.

“With around 35,000 people diagnosed with the disease every year in the East of England, we will never stop striving to create better treatments and to ensure people affected by cancer get the support we need. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we need people like Jill, Charlotte and Lucy to join us for a Very 2020 Race for Life.

“Vital cancer research has been delayed this year. Even though we have to Race for Life differently in 2020, nothing’s going to stop us running, walking and jogging to raise money and help beat cancer.

“Whatever the hurdle, we’ll keep going and we’d urge as many people as possible in Cambridgeshire to join in on September 26th. People can set off from their home to complete 5k their way that day. Things haven’t gone to plan for any of us in 2020. This is going to be a very 2020 Race for Life but together we will still beat cancer.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring series of 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.

Patrick Keely continued: “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. Thanks to the generosity of its supporters, the charity currently funds around 50 per cent of all publicly funded cancer research in the UK. However, as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic, promising projects which could have the big answers to cancer are being held up.

“Cancer is still happening right now and we won’t let 2020 stop us. Vital cancer research has been delayed this year. Even though we have to Race for Life differently in 2020, nothing’s going to stop us running, walking or jogging to raise money and help beat cancer. Whatever the hurdle, we’ll keep going and we’d urge as many people as possible in Cambridgeshire to join us for a Very 2020 Race for Life on September 26th.

“People can set off from their home to complete 5K their way that day. Whether people are taking part in Race for Life this September in their local park or even in their back garden, they’ll be united by a determination to beat cancer together. This is going to be a very 2020 Race for Life but together we will still beat cancer.”

To donate to Jill's fundraising page, please visit here.

Visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770. Join in and share with #Very2020RaceForLife

27 Aug 2020