Posted on Tuesday 9 November 2021
Dr Benjamin Miller and Dr Aleix Rovira with Dr Miller's children Zara and Casper
Two doctors are set to finish a monumental fundraising feat in support of their patients with head and neck cancer.
Dr Benjamin Miller and Dr Aleix Rovira from Guy’s and St Thomas’ have been doing a monthly run, starting with a distance of 10 kilometres, then adding an extra 10 kilometres to their runs each month. Having already done nine, the pair are due to do their final 100 kilometre run on Saturday 13 November.
The idea came about after members of the Guy’s head and neck cancer team decided to take on a series of fundraising challenges throughout the year. The money raised will go towards Guy’s Head and Neck Cancer Centre, which recently launched to improve how head and neck cancer is diagnosed and treated.
The head and neck cancer team have dubbed their fundraising challenges as ‘10 in 10’ and have undertaken 10 activities over 10 months, either individually or in groups, including triathlons, swimming challenges and bake sales. So far the whole team have collectively raised more than £100,000 to support their patients.
Keen runners Dr Miller and Dr Rovira chose to go even further by taking on a multi-ultra-marathon fundraising challenge.
Dr Miller, an ear nose and throat registrar, said: “The first few months were fine as we’d run those kinds of distances before, but from there it kind of spiralled out of control and now we’re doing these insane runs that we would never have contemplated before.”
Their most recent run of 90 kilometres took 13 hours and 29 minutes to complete, with the pair beginning at midnight.
The majority of the runs have started at Guy’s Hospital and Dr Miller and Dr Rovira have been joined by colleagues, friends and family for some of them. Dr Miller even pushed his children Zara, 3, and Casper, 1, in a buggy throughout their 20 kilometre run.
Dr Miller said: “Some of the longer distances have been really difficult at times, but also surprisingly nice. We’ve got to see some places we’d never have visited and we’ve challenged ourselves to do something we never thought would be possible.”
For both doctors, there’s a huge sense of achievement as they finish their long distance runs.
Dr Rovira, a head and neck consultant, said: “We’re managing to do things which months ago would have sounded unbelievable. The 100 kilometre run will be the icing on the cake. I’m sure we’ll suffer a bit but the feeling at the end will be great.”
As well as asking people to donate to their fundraising, the pair have encouraged others to join them for the final stretch of their last run. Colleagues, friends and family set to join them at Hyde Park and run together to finish at Guy’s Hospital.
Dr Rovira said: “In the delirium of some of our longer runs, Ben and I have talked about how amazing it would be to have others join us for the run, like in Forest Gump! Everyone is invited to join us at any point, particularly at the end as we cross the finish line.”
For Dr Miller and Dr Rovira, the people who will benefit from the money that is raised are never far from their thoughts as they tie the laces on their trainers each month.
“We’re doing this for our patients,” said Dr Rovira. “Knowing that we’re fundraising for them definitely keeps us going.”
All of the money raised will go towards different projects to help patients with head and neck cancer.
Head and neck cancer is the sixth most common cancer globally, with more than 650,000 people diagnosed annually. Around 1,000 people in the UK are diagnosed with head and neck cancer every month.
There are more than 15 areas within the head and neck where cancer can develop, including the mouth and lips, voice box, throat and nose. Despite advances in treatment, many of those diagnosed with head and neck cancer still lose their lives.
Guy’s Head and Neck Cancer Centre brings together a diverse range of programmes to offer patients the best possible care. The centre aims to speed up the diagnosis for head and neck cancer patients and improve the ways they are treated for their condition by minimising side-effects, maximising treatment effectiveness and reducing rates of recurrence.
The Guy’s Head and Neck Cancer Centre has been made possible thanks to the generous support of Charles Wilson and Dr Rowena Olegario of Wilson + Olegario Philanthropy. Charles is the former CEO of Booker, which is part of Tesco Plc, and was treated for neck cancer by a team from Guy’s Cancer three years ago.
Wilson + Olegario Philanthropy have been generously funding head and neck cancer research for many years and have committed over £6 million to support the development of the Guy’s Head and Neck Cancer Centre.
Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity is fundraising a further £5 million to fund this transformative programme for head and neck cancer patients and further enhance the care they receive.
To donate to the Guy’s head and neck cancer team’s fundraising, visit their JustGiving page.