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Cancer can’t stop Clare climbing mountains for RUH

Back in May, Clare Avenell, 33 years old from Chippenham, ticked an important adventure off her bucket list…trekking to Machu Picchu. Clare was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in September 2014, and what followed the grueling treatment she endured was some serious determination to get her fitness back. Along the way, she has raised an incredible £5,500 (and still counting!) for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign, to say thank you to those that cared for her when she needed it the most. Clare is now urging others to follow in her footsteps and help the charity in the same way by joining the Forever Friends Appeal’s 2017 Peru trekking team.

“Two years ago, by pure chance, a large cyst was found in my left ovary. Following an operation to remove the ovary it was found, much to everyone’s surprise, to be malignant – a rare type of endometroid ovarian cancer. This lead to 6 months of chemotherapy.

On finishing treatment in January I decided I needed a goal, something to work towards to help me find my lost fitness and lose the weight I had gained. They don’t warn you that it takes a long time for the drug effects to disappear! I wanted to do something at the top of my bucket list that would challenge me, be enjoyable and while I’m at it, raise some money at the same time. This led me to finding a trek to Machu Picchu.

The whole way through my treatment and even now with my check ups, the doctors and nurses at the RUH have been amazing but the facilities not so much, and when I heard about the new cancer unit that is going to be built there was no question on who I was going to raise money for. Not only will it transform the treatment and care for patients but also make the nurses job that little bit easier by having an environment that is actually built with cancer care and treatment in mind.”

Charity treks are a unique way of achieving so many travel-related dreams, with half of the challenge to raise vital funds for a worthwhile cause along the way… the other half of the challenge is of course the physical work – most treks are designed to be tough so that you can accomplish the most!

Clare continues: “Raising money when you have a target of a few thousand pounds can seem like a daunting task but by no means impossible. I found the old saying ‘it’s not what you know……’ very much came in handy. When you mention raising money for cancer most people are more than happy to give, however if you give something in return they can be even more generous. I held a couple of quiz nights, a raffle and a silent auction which, along with some generous donations, easily took me over my target. Having easy ways to give money (justgiving page and money boxes) also makes it simple. The less complicated things are, the more people will remember to do it!

Thanks to everyone’s kind donations and those at Chippenham Rugby Club I reached my goal and in May 2016 I headed to Peru. Although the trek was challenging and the altitude breath-taking, the experience was amazing. I met some inspirational people and learnt about a fascinating culture and history. Sitting on the side of the mountain overlooking the ancient Inca site pinching myself that it wasn’t a picture and I was actually there is a memory I will always have. Going on an organised trek meant I had the best of both worlds; I got to see parts of the country I wouldn’t have seen being just a tourist but also had the reassurance that if something went wrong, someone was always there to help.


Nineteen months later and I have raised £5500 and still rising! Thank you so much to everyone that donated and helped me reach my goal, and to all the nurses and doctors at the RUH for the help they have given and continue to give me.”

Like Clare, you can also trek to Machu Picchu and make a difference to thousands of patients at the RUH. The Forever Friends Appeal are currently looking for adventurous fundraisers to join their Peru Trekking Team, departing in November 2017. The original Inca Trail challenge will lead you along gushing rivers, amongst ancient tunnels and ruins, through lush cloud-forest and sub-tropical jungle and across high mountain passes to the picture-perfect Sun Gate, where the ancient city of Machu Picchu awaits. Trekkers can choose to fundraise for the RUH Cancer Care Campaign like Clare, or any ward or department that’s close to your heart.

Want to know more? There will be a Peru Information Evening at the RUH on Wednesday 26th October from 6.30pm, which includes a talk and Q&A session with the trek leader. To find out more or to book your place, please click here or contact Laura on laurapearce1@nhs.net / 01225 821535.

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