Unstoppable sportswoman undergoing cancer treatment takes on 160 feet abseil for charity

Friday 22 September 2023

Claire is sat in a purple chair, smiling, with her thumbs up. She is receiving chemotherapy treatment from a machine to the left of her chair.

A tireless cancer patient is set to abseil 160 feet down the front of St Thomas’ Hospital to fundraise for Guy’s Cancer Charity.

Claire Stork, 42, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in January. Following surgery to remove the 12 centimetre tumour in her neck, she is now undergoing further cancer treatment.

But Claire isn’t letting cancer, or treatment, stop her from living her life. She continues to play for Crystal Palace Ladies walking football team, and competes in pool championships at both interleague and county level – all while working full time as an administrator in a prison. Claire, who lives in Woolwich in south-east London, said:

The doctors are amazed and can't believe that I’ve continued with all my sports. But I say, ‘I’m living with cancer, and I don’t want the cancer living me’.

A lot of people don’t know what you go through with cancer until it happens. I want to turn this negative into a positive to share my experience with other people.

Claire first noticed a small lump on her neck in Autumn 2022. Weeks of tests and investigations revealed that it was cancer, and it had spread to her lungs.

In December, Claire had a 6-hour surgery at Guy’s Hospital to remove the tumour which had grown to 12 centimetres, along with 64 lymph nodes and her thyroid. She was back on her feet in a third of the expected time, and 5 days after surgery was out of hospital and Christmas shopping.

A biopsy of the tumour confirmed it was thyroid cancer. Thyroid cancer is a type of cancer found in the thyroid gland, accounting for 1% of all new cancer cases in the UK.

Despite being terrified of heights, Claire will be taking on the abseil together with her two best friends, Della Pearson and Levi Bowditch. The daring trio have dubbed themselves the ‘Party Animals’ and will be dressed as Where’s Wally.

Claire has been practicing on a high ropes course near Rochester, Kent, with her nephew, John, 12, and niece Ruby, 10. Claire said:

People tell me I’m brave for having cancer, but I’m not. So I wanted to do something brave – the abseil!

The Party Animals will join hundreds of other courageous thrill-seekers to take on the St Thomas' Abseil sponsored by Livingbridge in September. The annual challenge over two days raises vital funds for Guy’s Cancer Charity, Guy’s & St Thomas’ Charity, and Evelina London Children’s Charity.

Claire decided to take on the abseil to show how much Guy’s Cancer Charity helps people. She said:

All the staff are so friendly and brilliant, nothing is too much or too big for them. My surgeon, Mr Simo, talks to you like a family member, he is like a dad and so caring.

Claire’s surgeon, Mr Ricard Simo said:

Since Claire’s diagnosis she has had a major surgery and very intense treatment. Despite this, she perseveres, and is taking on new challenges, like the abseil. All the team treating Claire are delighted with her courage, will and determination to beat this disease.

Della Pearson, Claire’s best friend said:

There's nothing too big or too small for Claire to overcome!

Guy’s Cancer Charity supports Guy’s Cancer to transform cancer care through the very latest developments in personalised care. From tailored treatments to the ongoing support of the dedicated clinicians, they help support advances in cancer care for people like Claire.

Alison Rulton-Reed, Head of Community and Events at Guy’s Cancer Charity said:

We’re delighted to have Claire and her team the ‘Party Animals’ join us at this year’s exciting event. Our work is supported by generous fundraisers who wish to help us fuel innovation and support advances in cancer care. If you’re interested in supporting our work please visit us at guyscancercharity.org.uk.

Guy's Head and Neck Cancer Centre launched in 2021, with thanks to the generosity of Wilson + Olegario Philanthropy, to improve how head and neck cancer is diagnosed and treated. 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.

Visit Claire's fundraising page. 

Last updated: September 2023

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