Grandson to cycle 425 miles for charity who helped ‘Nanny Sweeties’
- Credit: Big C
A year ago, Tom Street's grandmother Gloria Hunter - affectionately known as Nanny Sweeties - was diagnosed with womb cancer.
For Tom, an art director from Norwich, it was yet another health challenge thrown at this family.
As a child the now 26-year-old suffered with a heart condition, which meant he had to undergo heart surgery at 20.
And over the years he said he had lost many close family members to cancer and other illnesses.
But keen to stay positive, Tom has thrown himself into fundraising, and is one of six friends tackling a gruelling 425 mile cycle ride, over five days, from Norwich Castle to Edinburgh Castle.
When his grandmother was diagnosed, Tom said: 'It was pretty terrifying, especially for my mum who has been through so much over the last couple of years. I feel for her going through this amount in such a short time. It's a lot for her to deal with.
'We're all human, even if you have cancer - you're still a mum, dad, nan, auntie or somebody's friend. I know first-hand what it's like to not be able to do everything you want to do - to have health as a barrier.
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'I wasn't able to take part in endurance sports with my heart condition. Now I'm over it, it's like I've got my life back. I'm free to do what I feel. I want more people to feel this same liberation, to feel like they can get over anything, turn their life around and live again.'
Before Mrs Street, 69, also from Norwich, was diagnosed she had been suffering with back pain, and doctors discovered a large tumour.
She went through major surgery to remove her womb and lymph nodes.
She has just finished a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and is now awaiting the test results before she is able to fully understand her prognosis.
In the meantime, she has been receiving support from Big C throughout her cancer journey, which played a big factor in Tom's reasons for nominating Big C as his dedicated charity. She has used our Big C Centre for massages, reflexology and also for wig-wearing advice.
He said: 'It's only been a few years since I've been able to take part in vigorous exercise. Now after heart surgery, I'm fully fit after and I cycle an average of 100 miles a week – there's nothing I like more than steaming up a big climb. I am supporting Big C for all the great work they do for patients suffering from cancer in Norfolk and Waveney.'
'The support at Big C has been great for my nan. She's loved the wig-wearing clinics. My granddad has been going along to drop-ins with her and has also received reflexology. It's been really good for them. When I discovered the invaluable support nan was receiving, this really motivated me to take action.'
When the six schoolfriends take on the challenge this month, they will attempt to raise as much money as possible for six different charities.
A couple of the group are keen cyclists, but for most the five long rides to reach Edinburgh are something new.
Tom said: 'None of us see each other as much as we'd like to these days – so what better way to boost our camaraderie than to push each other harder and further than we have done before? For a couple of us, cycling is part of our everyday lives. But for the most, this means trying something new.
'We want to prove that no matter what stands in your way – whether that's ability, health or simply just not having the time – you can achieve anything if you dedicate yourself and train hard enough.
'Before I knew about Big C, my first instinct was to raise money for a charity supporting heart conditions but when I heard about all the specific services that were helping nan, I instantly wanted to help Big C. I think it's great that they offer so many practical services with a tangible effect. Things that make a difference.'
He said the endurance needed for the ride would not be too dissimilar to the strength his nan needed to feel her way through the various treatments and surgery.
'If nan can do this after everything she's been through, so can I. That's why I want to help Big C. I want others to benefit from their amazing services and for them to feel hope. The perseverance you need in endurance sports is not too dissimilar to dealing with an illness. You've got to get your head down and deal with it mentally.
'I want to help people and make a difference locally. With Big C, you can see where the money is going first-hand. For me, that was really important - to remain local to my city and help the people I you and I might know.'
Dr Chris Bushby, chief executive at Big C, added: 'Tom and his friends are an inspiration. It's wonderful news that Tom is now fit and able to undertake such an endurance challenge and in doing so recognise the challenges that those affected by cancer have to face. We thank Tom for his support and wish them all the very best of luck. We look forward to tracking their progress.'
More details can be found on Tom's Castle to Castle website - www.castletocastle.uk
To find out more about Big C's support for those in our community affected by cancer, visit www.big-c.co.uk