Cervical cancer research receives fundraising boost

A prospective research programme in Leicester to improve the lives of women who have undergone treatment for cervical cancer has received a cash injection.

John Boulger of Wigston organised a team of swimmers – including Leicester singer Jersey Budd – to raise £10,000 in an effort to get the research up and running.

The study, which will be a partnership between Leicester’s Hospitals, the University of Leicester and Drs Hilary McDermott and Fehmidah Munir at Loughborough University, intends to deliver a programme combining physical activity and peer support to women whose lives have been devastated by a cervical cancer diagnosis.

Dr Esther Moss, consultant gynaecological oncologist, said: “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to John and his friends for their fundraising efforts and for the generous contributions from their sponsors and supporters. Through their generosity we hope our research will help women who have been impacted by a cervical cancer diagnosis return to their everyday lives.”

When asked about the research, Dr Moss explained: “Most women with a cervical cancer diagnosis are under the age of forty. The effects of treatment can have life-changing consequences, such as infertility, early menopause, incontinence and pelvic pain. These outcomes affect their ability to take part in physical activity, in addition to the psychological distress of having cancer and the anxiety of its possible recurrence.”

Dr Munir, a health psychologist from Loughborough University added: “As part of our project outline, we spoke at length with Leicestershire cervical cancer survivors and the consensus was that they wanted to take part in physical activity but were concerned about pain and incontinence and, consequently, struggled with their confidence levels. With the input from gynaecological doctors, psychologists and experts in physical activity, we hope to reduce their anxieties through removing barriers to exercise and help them regain a sense of normality in their lives.”

John and his friends swam from the island of St. Anastasia in the Black Sea to the city of Burgas in Bulgaria, a distance of 1.9 miles.

John said: “It started off as a jolly really! I love long distance swimming and I go to Bulgaria every year, so I asked the island manager what I would need to do to be able to swim between the island and the shore. He suggested raising some funds for a local charity to help women recover from cancer. The following year we wanted to do the same but raise the money for a cause back home as well, so we approached the cancer services at Leicester Hospitals.”

The cause has since become very close to John’s heart. He explains, “A valued member of my staff, Jackie O’Donoghue, at Crowndale Foods has been diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer. My thanks go to some of our suppliers for their very generous donations, as well as all our friends, family and staff who have undertaken this crazy challenge. Jackie even did the swim herself last year, but couldn’t repeat the feat this time around due to poor health.”

Jackie added, “I would like to thank Joey Woods, Girish Thirthalalli and Esther Moss at Leicester’s Hospitals for their hard work, empathy and dedication to my care.”

The study needs to raise a total of £40,000 and hopes to recruit women from across Leicestershire who have had a cervical cancer at anytime in their past. More information about the study will become available early next year but if you or someone you know might be interested in finding out more please email gynaecologyresearch@uhl-tr.nhs.uk for more information.

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