A 25-STRONG team made up of GPs and medical staff from Rochdale and their friends have scaled Mount Snowdon by bike and on foot to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK – inspired by an Oldham-born chemistry teacher’s battle with a rare cancer.
Dr Bodrul Alam, who is a GP and cancer care lead at Edenfield Road Surgery, Cutgate Precinct, in Rochdale, organised the charity fundraising challenge after his sister Shahida Khanam, a chemistry teacher, was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer called Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans, or DFSP for short, earlier this year.
The Oldham-born GP, who lives in Royton, was then inundated with requests from colleagues and friends who wanted to join him on the steep, seven-mile gruelling hike.
Half the team went up the mountain by bike with Dr Alam and the other half went up on foot led by practice lead Dr Simon Rhodes – both successfully completing the challenge on Sunday July 22.
The team raised around £10,000 for Cancer Research UK from the challenge which is also in memory of two former colleagues who sadly lost their lives to cancer.
The Edenfield Road Surgery team will now hold a Cancer Awareness Month with events every Monday in August starting on Monday August 6 between 1pm and 3pm when representatives from Cancer Research UK will be on hand to talk about how to spot cancer sooner through cancer screening and being aware of cancer symptoms. The team will also provide information about healthy lifestyle changes people can make to help stack their odds against cancer.
The awareness events will also see a lung cancer expert visit the surgery on Monday13 August followed by a breast cancer expert on 20 August. The awareness event ties in with the NHS 70th birthday celebrations.
Dr Alam was approached to help with his sister’s fundraising after a student at Priestley College in Warrington set up a fundraising page for Cancer Research UK in her name while she was being treated at St Helens Hospital.
Dr Alam said: “My sister laid down the gauntlet by asking me if I could support the fundraising her students had started. I had a colleague who was doing a challenge up Snowdon for another charity and decided it would be great to do something similar for Cancer Research UK.
“I really have been inspired by many a patient I’ve encountered, who have battled their ailments with courage, dedication and determination. Sadly, cancer is an indiscriminate disease that can strike any of us at any time.
“I have thought about doing something to help raise funds for Cancer Research UK for some time but hadn’t quite taken that final step.
“Suddenly with my sister’s diagnosis our family’s lives were turned upside down. It felt a little strange to sit on the ‘other side’ of a medical consultation. I think it’s fair to say that as a family it’s been the most challenging few months of our lives. She’s my sister but also a best friend, a proud mother to two delightful daughters, who’s never let anyone down in their hour of need. She’s a star!
“We’ve been overwhelmed by support from friends, colleagues and family, and we are grateful for this.”
He added: “The bike up Snowdon itself was very, very challenging. Doing seven miles might not sound that far but it’s hard work when it’s all up hill and you are climbing one kilometre up into the sky! We only decided we were going to do it about three weeks before and some of the team only had a few days’ notice so it wasn’t a challenge where we got to train much – if at all – before heading off, but it was worth it – the support has been amazing.”
Dr Alam’s sister – known as Ruj – who has also recently received the all clear from her cancer after two lots of surgery at St Helens Hospital, said: “I was in the middle of very gruelling treatment at the time they were organising it and in a lot of pain so I didn’t take that much in at first. But once I was feeling a bit better and my brother told me what they were planning to do I thought it was amazing!
“I’m so pleased something good can come out of my cancer experience and that we are able to give something back for the excellent treatment I received and help Cancer Research UK to fund more research to find more treatments for other families who experience cancer in the future.”
Other participants who took on the challenge included Dr Tim Watkins, Dr George Bhima, Dr Andrew Gunn, Ruj’s husband Dr Shayel Ahmed, her other brother Sadrul Alam. Dr Simon Rhodes, Denise Taylor and Anita Hamer, who also work at the surgery, other family members completed Team Alam!
Polly Williams, Cancer Research UK’s local fundraising manager for Rochdale, said: “We are absolutely delighted that Dr Alam and his team have successfully completed such a great challenge to raise vital funds for Cancer Research UK.
“Cancer Research UK has made enormous progress in the fight against cancer. However, we have only been able to do this thanks to the dedication and commitment of our volunteers and supporters without whom we would not be able to fund our research.
“Thanks to supporters, Cancer Research UK spent over £26million on cancer research in Greater Manchester last year.”
To donate to the Edenfield Road Surgery Team, visit: https://fundraise.