One not so sunny and warm September morning, a group of keen cyclists set off from John O'Groats, their aim being to travel the length of the UK within 10 days, to end up at one of the cyclist's favourite pubs in Land's End. The total journey was nearly 1000 miles long, which equaled approximately 100 miles a day, and included a slight detour mid journey to attend a publicity event at the Oxford Cancer Centre based at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.
A hardy group of 28 doctors, nurses, patients, carers, friends and family, all with links to the Churchill Hospital, part of Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, set off from John O'Groats on 3 September 2015, amid searing rain and freezing winds (although the weather improved and did its best to show off the glorious scenery to keep the riders spirits up) to raise funds for the Oxfordshire Oesophageal and Stomach Organisation (OOSO) charity and for ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery). The riders were backed up on their journey by two support vehicles driven by OOSO patients and carers.
They decided to do the ride to support those who are undergoing treatment for oesophageal and stomach cancer in Oxford. Some of the money raised from the event would go towards supporting OOSO and the funding of particular projects to improve patient care in the Oxford Upper GI Centre at the Churchill Hospital.
The aim was to raise £30,000, with half of the money going towards OOSO and the other half of the money being donated to charities nominated by the riders. These included London Air Ambulance, Breast Surgery Fund & Breast Cancer Care, Cancer Benefactors, Women's Cancer Fund, Pancreatic Cancer UK, Oncology Ward, Bariatric Charitable Fund, Surgical Oesophageal Fund, Adult Intensive Care Oxford University, HPB Surgery Pancreatic Cancer Research and HPB Surgery Fund.
To date this event has exceeded the expected amount of £30,000 and is now over £40,000.
Nick Maynard, Consultant Surgeon at the Churchill Hospital and one of the cyclists undertaking the ride, said “Oesophageal cancer is increasing faster than any cancer in the western world and together with stomach cancer kills more than 10,000 people each year in England. There have been huge improvements in the treatment of oesophageal cancer in the last decade, but despite significant improvements in outcomes from these treatments, survival is still worse than many other cancers.”
OOSO is a registered charity and was founded by Jackie Beaumont, a former oesophageal patient, in March 2009. The charity was set up to provide support to patients (and their relatives) undergoing treatment for oesophageal and stomach cancer in the Oxford Cancer Centre. It takes a long time to recover from treatment for these cancers, and OOSO plays a vital role in this. Their input is now an integral part of the care that Churchill Hospital patients receive.