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Cancer patient undergoing treatment takes on 875 mile cycle

Andy Wooders will cycle the famous John O’Groats to Land’s End route to raise funds for The Sunrise Appeal

A Sunrise Centre patient who’s been battling cancer for the past three years is about to take on a different kind of battle in the form of the UK’s most notorious bike ride – all to raise funds for the hospital where he’s been being treated.

Andy Wooders, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer in early 2016, will cycle the famous 875 mile trail from John O’Groats in Scotland to Cornwall’s Land’s End this month to raise funds for The Sunrise Appeal, the charity that remains committed to raising funds to ensure that the Sunrise Centre maintains a gold standard status into the future.

He is continuing to be treated at the Sunrise Centre, where he’s on a perpetual 24-week on, 12-week off cycle of targeted therapy treatment. The epic charity cycle ride falls during his 12 week period when he’s not being treated.

Mr Wooders explained, “It all started when I felt a persistent niggle in my shoulder. I started to have physiotherapy but was eventually sent for an MRI scan that revealed I had a cancerous kidney tumour – and that it had started to spread to my spine.” 

Following the discovery, Mr Wooders had surgery in Exeter where the tumour was removed along with four vertebrae and several intervertebral discs, as well as having two metal rods screwed to the top and base of his spine so he could continue to walk.

He said, “The treatment I’ve had and continue to receive at the Sunrise Centre is absolutely second-to-none and I can’t thank them enough for the kindness, care and support that they’ve shown myself and my family during what’s been a particularly hard time in our lives. The staff are absolutely marvellous and do a wonderful job at creating a calm atmosphere. Every cycle of the way we’ll be thinking about them and every single patient that passes through the Sunrise Centre!”

Andy and wife Niki from Lelant will start the challenge on Friday 16th August and plan to arrive at the famous Cornish Land’s End signpost on 29th August. The challenge, which stretches the entire length of the country, is a family affair with Andy’s brother Martin and friend Steve cycling along side, Niki’s sister-in-law Kerry – who’s father was also diagnosed with cancer just before Christmas – driving the support vehicle and nephews Will and Joe providing refreshments throughout the journey. 

Niki said, “This is such an important issue to us and our families after everything that’s happened with Andy’s diagnosis and treatment, so we wanted to do something big and challenging – like riding 1,000 miles along the length of Britain! – to raise as much money as we can. We are training hard in preparation! It’s daunting to say the least, but we’re also really excited to take it on!”

Andy added, “I had planned to cycle a similar distance as a milestone before I turned 55 two years’ ago in France – but cancer had other ideas. I’ve always been an adventurer and it took me a while to get back on my feet after the initial diagnosis, but I managed to start cycling again in February 2017.”

“I’m not nervous about the challenge itself – in fact, I’m looking forward to it and spending time with my wife and brother! The most comfortable place for me at the moment is on a bike because all my weight is being taken through the saddle, but there’s no doubt that it will be physically and mentally challenging. We can’t wait to get started, have some fun and hopefully raise some more money along the way.”

The couple set an initial fundraising target of £1,250 but have almost exceeded that amount. They’ll be taking collection buckets with them on their journey, but donations would also be much appreciated on their JustGiving page.

Niki added, “We’re extremely appreciative of any form of support no matter how big or small, and we would love to thank everyone in advance for their kindness. The Sunrise Centre have been exceptional throughout Andy’s treatment, so we’d love to give as much as possible back so they can continue to deliver world-class care to other patients.”

Colin Micklewright, Treasurer and Trustee of The Sunrise Appeal, said, “We are eternally grateful to people like Andy and Niki who selflessly fundraise to help keep crucial cancer services operating in Cornwall. We wish them all the best of luck with the cycle and will be following their updates to see how they get on!”