12:57PM, Thursday 24 October 2019
Photo by Ian Longthorne
A couple who were friends with the late Ruth Strauss have completed a bike ride in her honour.
Burnham residents Susie and Wayne Eastwood led the Breathe For Life team cycle challenge from Land’s End to John O’Groats between Sunday, September 22 and Monday, October 7, passing through 35 counties.
Susie, 52, became close friends with Ruth, the late wife of cricketer Sir Andrew Strauss who passed away after a battle with the rare ALK-positive non-small lung cancer in December 2018, after starring in a play together as part of Jam Theatre Company in Marlow.
Susie, who is the professor of Environmental Toxicology at Brunel University London, where is known as Professor Susan Jobling, said she used the bike ride to honour Ruth and to raise awareness of the rise of lung cancer in non-smokers and raise funds to support patients and their families.
She said: “Ruth was all about community. I want to do that with the patients, do that with the people around and connect, she wanted to connect community.
“[That’s] the experts in different areas, the GPs, the patients themselves”.
Discussing the rise in non-smoking lung cancer, Susie said: “Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung cancer but the number of people getting lung cancer who do not smoke, they’re called non-smokers in clinical terms, so they may have smoked at some point.
“People who have never smoked are in another category but those two categories, the number of people getting lung cancer, is rising. So there are 13,000 people are year diagnosed and two-thirds of those are women.”
Susie, who also cited other risk factors to lung cancer including ‘indoor and outdoor pollution’, added that the pair monitored air pollution on the 1,400-mile route.
The bike ride, which is sponsored by PyroCore, is raising money for The Ruth Strauss Foundation, ALK Positive Lung Cancer UK and Friends of the Earth for their campaign for clean air.
The journey was organised as a community relay, picking up and dropping individuals off at different points.
It saw PyroCore team members, patients such as the founder and chair of the ALK Lung Cancer UK charity, Debra Montague, family and friends, doctors and nurses including from the Royal Marsden, and former England cricket team captain Sir Andrew Strauss all take part.
Debra Montague said: “I set the charity and support group up as I was diagnosed in October 2016 despite never having smoked. I used to work in the pharmaceutical industry so had access to a lot of information and people who knew about this rare lung cancer so was able to increase my knowledge easily. I wanted to give others the same opportunity and so formed the support group initially.
“I was delighted when Susie approached me explaining what she was planning on doing as one of the charity’s aims is to identify all ALK-positive patients across the UK so they can join the support group if they wish to.”
A spokesperson from the Ruth Strauss Foundation said: “Susie and Wayne Eastwood were good friends of Ruth and she would be very proud of them for putting themselves through this gruelling challenge.
“The Breathe for Life Team Cycle challenge was a great success and their contribution has added to the remarkable funds raising effort from this summer’s #RedForRuth day at Lord’s, and we're all truly grateful for their support.”
Sir Andrew Strauss said: “I’d like to thank Susie and Wayne and all the volunteers who joined the Breathe for Life Team Cycle Challenge. I had a brilliant day on the leg I joined and hats off to the team that cycled all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”
To find out more about Breathe for Life visit www.breathe4life.co.uk or donate at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/Team/BreatheLife
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