Cancer charity feels Force of support as hospital medics walk 800 lockdown miles to raise £7,000

A team of cancer specialists from the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has raised more than £7,000 for charity by completing laps of the Wonford site – equalling almost 800 miles.

Some 86 people took part in the challenge to run or walk two-kilometre circuits around the perimeter of the RD&E last week, before and after work, and during their breaks.

They were raising money for FORCE Cancer Charity, (Friends of the Oncology and Radiotherapy Centre, Exeter), which continues to support local people affected by cancer during the coronavirus pandemic lockdown – and paying to deliver chemotherapy in Honiton twice a week.

Team oncology included doctors, radiographers, physicists, head and neck specialists, paediatricians, nurses, a dietician and managers.

Setting off at different times to comply to social distancing, the team completed a total of 642 laps, covering 1,284 kilometres, or nearly 800 miles.

The challenge was set up by Dr Jenny Forrest, consultant clinical oncologist and a trustee at FORCE.

She said: “The laps for Force challenge has been very well supported by all staff groups involved with treating people with cancer, showing how much we appreciate what FORCE provides for our patients.

“Everyone enjoyed it and there is a request to do it again next year. It’s been a good morale boost and a distraction. Many say they are going to continue to run before work or in their lunch hour.”

She added: “Despite the current COVID-19 pandemic, cancer care continues but our patients are more isolated than ever in this time of shielding and virtual consultations.

“Force is a fantastic resource for all our patients, providing not only counselling and psychological support but financial advice, physiotherapy and more.

“In addition, Force is providing the funding for ongoing chemotherapy at our outreach clinics in Honiton and Okehampton, more valuable than ever to help keep patients away from the main hospital.

“Many fundraising events have been cancelled so we put our heads together to come up with something that we could do to support Force despite the current lockdown measures to recognise all that Force gives our patients to help them in the face of a cancer diagnosis.”

Lauren Rowberry from the medical physics team completed most laps overall with 27, including six in the space of an hour on two occasions. She was the only woman taking part who managed to get around half a dozen times in 60 minutes during the week.

Consultant paediatrician Dr Simon Parke, who specialises in oncology and haematology, managed the most circuits in an hour, with eight.

Meriel Fishwick, FORCE chief executive, said: “Force has raised more than £22 million for local cancer services since its inception in 1987. To see such support from our friends some 33 years on, and their personal commitment to help us weather this crisis, is just the best thing we could have asked for.”

You can still support the RD&E Oncology Department’s challenge for FORCE here

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