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Friends from Mill Hill walk 54 miles for NHS after illness UK News

Two friends who have helped each other through life-changing illnesses took on a cycling challenge to raise money for the NHS teams who cared for them.

Neighbors Jeff Ward, 68, and Gary Colet, 62, of Mill Hill, recently completed a 54.2 mile bike ride.

They did this to thank the staff at the Guy Hospital Cancer Center for treating Jeff’s rare form of skin cancer and Barnet General Hospital for treating Gary after contracting COVID-19. .

To show their support for their fundraising, members of Jeff’s medical team joined the couple for the ride.

A grandfather of two, Jeff has lived with a cancer called cutaneous T cell lymphoma (CTCL) since 2007.

Around 200 people are diagnosed with CTL each year in the UK, where T lymphocytes, the white blood cells that fight infection, develop abnormalities and attack the skin.

For most patients, it remains a chronic disease, but in 10% of cases it spreads indoors and becomes potentially fatal.

Times Series: Jeff WardJeff Ward

Over the years, the retired accountant has remained stable under the care of two specialists from Guy’s Cancer Center, dermatologist Professor Sean Whittaker and oncologist Dr Stephen Morris.

In March 2020, Jeff’s neighbor and cycling buddy, Gary Colet, contracted COVID-19 and was admitted to Barnet Hospital to stay there for the next three months, including five weeks on a ventilator.

Back home Gary had lost a third of his body weight, the recovery was exhausting but by resuming his passion for cycling with Jeff cheering him on, he started to gain strength.

In November, Jeff learned that his cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, he said “it was a horrible shock to hear that the cancer was now deadly especially since I felt so good”.

He quickly began a chemotherapy and radiation therapy program, but it was clear that this would not keep the cancer going indefinitely.

For long-term remission and even a possible cure, Jeff would need a stem cell transplant. As he has no siblings, a suitable donor has been sought in the international registry.

In January, Jeff learned that there were signs the chemotherapy was working and that a suitable donor had also been found in the United States.

The transplant is to take place in early June at Hammersmith Hospital under the care of Dr Renuka Palanicawander.

Jeff said: “When my diagnosis arrived I knew the best way to deal with it, emotionally and physically, was to focus on my fitness and do something positive for the teams who work so hard to keep me. good.

On Saturday April 17, after Jeff had completed 10 chemotherapy sessions and before his transplant, he and Gary completed the equivalent of the London to Brighton Bike Ride, which is over 50 miles and 2,500 feet above sea level, going north -west London in Hertfordshire. countryside.

During a consultation, Jeff mentioned the ride to Professor Whittaker and Dr Morris and joked that they had to do it with him.

Jeff added, “I was amazed and delighted that they both said they were ok with the idea.

“It was made even more incredible when Dr Palanicawander and one of the nurses who help me administer my chemotherapy, Annamaria Kostikova, agreed to come upstairs as well.”

Jeff is raising 50/50 funds for Skin Tumor Unit Fund research and radiation therapy for cutaneous lymphoma at Guy’s Cancer Center, where key investigators are Professor Whittaker and Dr Morris.

After completing the ride, Jeff said, “The ride was fantastic and we couldn’t have asked for a better time.

“Although the chemo slowed me down, having everyone on the bike with me really helped keep me going, I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has donated so far.”

Dr Stephen Morris said: “When Jeff first mentioned the ride, it wasn’t long before Professor Whittaker and I decided that we would like to get involved as well.

“It’s an amazing thing Jeff and Gary have done and a testament to their determination to turn a difficult situation into something so positive.”

To support Jeff’s fundraising visit

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This notice was published: 2021-04-22 10:29:00