Friends hit road to help cancer battle

On their bikes for Alcester to Paris trip

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Tori Rushton and Phillipa Capel held their bikes high this week alongside their friend Gabrielle Starkey as the pair prepared for their cycle challenge to Paris. Photo: Mark Williamson (A58/8/16/3)

TWO cycling enthusiasts will be taking to the road today, Saturday, in order to help fund a friend’s cancer treatment abroad.

Tori Rushton and Phillipa Capel from Cookhill, are taking on an eight-day, 1,000km round trip, riding from Alcester to Paris to help Alcester mum, Gabrielle Starkey, access a cutting-edge type of immunotherapy treatment only available in Germany.

The cyclists set off from Alcester High Street.

Tori said: “We are looking for help with funding this life-saving trip. Gabrielle is a dear friend, so we decided to get on our bikes and do what we could. It’s very daunting, but we’re training hard – it’ll be an amazing, exhausting adventure!”

They are also being joined on the trip by friend, Ollie Elliott, from London. Gabrielle, aged 46, has battled breast cancer since 2008 and in 2014, it was classed as incurable (Stage 4) when it spread to her liver and spine.

Since then, through research, she discovered a German clinic in Duderstadt near Hanover with many years of experience treating Stage 4 cancers, with some remissions lasting more than 15 years.

Gabrielle, who is a single mum to Luca, 11, started the dendritic cell vaccine therapy in February this year, alongside a low-dose chemotherapy, which has so far had positive results.

But at £4,000 per treatment it’s very expensive and not available on the NHS, so her and her friends have been busy fundraising, and have raised almost half of the £40,000 target, through classic music evenings, swimathons, half marathons and a 70s fancy dress disco.

Gabrielle said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the efforts of my friends and family in raising money for me; it’s really an incredible feeling, to be so supported, and to be able to get this treatment.

“Since February I’ve been to Germany four times, which is the most intense part of the treatment, but now I only have to go every three months. I’ve also been having low-dose chemotherapy, and the combination is really working so far – my tumour marker has dropped to normal and the lesions on my liver are now stable.

“The money Tori, Philippa and Ollie raise will help me to go back to Germany in September, and hopefully I’ll continue to improve. That’s an incredible result, and I can’t thank them enough for their amazing efforts. I’m just grateful that I have such fabulous friends.”

Read Gabrielle’s blog here.