Back in the saddle for cancer research


Posted on Thursday 19 September 2019
20190919-Gary Saunders with his son

Gary Saunders with his son

A man who survived testicular cancer is gearing up for a 300 mile bike ride to raise money for clinical research and to thank medics for successfully treating his dad’s bladder cancer.

Gary Saunders, from Sevenoaks in Kent, was in his early 30s, and newly married, with a two-year-old son when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011.

He had four rounds of chemotherapy before a further three months of high dose chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant.

Gary, Managing Director at Barclays Investment Bank, said: “Those twelve months were rough but I’m here today because of treatment that is only available due to research, which is lifesaving but also very expensive.

“Thankfully life got back to normal for me but with a new perspective and appreciation for the work of all of those in healthcare.”

This week the 41-year-old is taking on a mammoth 300 mile, three day cycle from the Belgian city of Liège to the Cancer Centre at Guy's in London. He’s aiming to raise £150,000 to fund two clinical research fellows at Guy’s Cancer, who will carry out scientific research into treatments for urological cancers.

Gary said: “We’re no strangers to cancer in our family. Unfortunately, four years ago my dad, Roy, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. The initial prognosis wasn’t good and he was facing the rest of his life without a bladder and with a bag instead.

“However, having met a few consultants during my own cancer treatment, I was able to help dad to understand that you can have a say in where you’re treated, and can always ask for a second opinion. So we went off to the Cancer Centre at Guy’s to discuss an alternative treatment plan around very targeted chemotherapy rather than surgery.”

After two years of treatment Roy was given the all clear and recently celebrated his 79th birthday.

Gary said: “Family life is great now and we are keen to give something back by raising money for Guy’s Cancer so that more people can access the kinds of treatment we had. Outcomes and treatment options are not all the same and research is expensive, without it a lot of other stories will have a very different ending from mine and my dad’s.”

Gary will be taking on the Liège to London cycle challenge from Thursday 19 September to Saturday 21 September. He’ll be joined by 17 other riders, including friends, family, other cancer survivors and three medics from the Cancer Centre at Guy’s.

This is his second fundraising challenge having already raised more than £100,000 for Guy’s Cancer in 2016 by leading a group of cyclists from Land’s End in Cornwall to London.

Gary said: “Riding side by side with an even bigger group of cancer survivors will be emotional at times. Our mix of ages and backgrounds is a reminder that cancer doesn’t discriminate, and it can affect anyone at any time. Brussels is home to cycling and the Tour de France started there this year, so if it was good enough for them, it’s good enough for us.”

To support the Liège to London team, visit their Just Giving page.

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