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176 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 146 supporters
Abi Richards avatar
Abi Richards

Abi's Bournemouth to Brighton Cycle

We are cycling 100 miles for Southampton Hospital for University of Southampton because their groundbreaking research saves lives!

176 %
raised of £3,000 target
by 146 supporters

University of Southampton

We are leading immunotherapy research to save more lives from cancer

Charity Registration No. HMRC Registered


As I write this, 365 days since I was admitted through A&E into Winchester Hospital, I can't quite believe the scary, crazy, but thankfully fortunate year I have had.

On Saturday 6th August 2016, I took off on a little two night holiday to Winchester Hospital. There were tests for appendicitis and gall stones, until we were moved to a nurses office and told that the Malignant Melanoma (dodgy mole!) I'd had removed in 2009 had come back with a vengeance. I had 13 tumours in my liver, and 1 on my lung. It honestly felt like we were in some horrible TV drama, like we were looking in from the outside and we just couldn't believe this was happening.  

I didn't cry, I didn't know what to do. I just needed a plan. Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a plan! Fast forward 10 days and we were waiting for our first appointment with the Oncology team in Southampton Hospital. By this point, I was very unwell, my liver was failing and I was in excruciating pain. To really tip things off, I was told it was likely I would only have a couple of weeks left to live, there goes the plan.

At this point, I don't even know if I was scared. I didn't have to deal with the fallout if things went horribly wrong. My family did. My friends did. My amazing Husband that I had vowed to love, 'til death do us part, my parents who I love so much, my grandparents, my sister, my brother, my niece and nephews, my best friends... the list goes on. I couldn't bear the thought of leaving them all behind to deal with this. All I could think about was our magical wedding day just a couple of years before, all the hope for a happy future, a long marriage, a family of our own.

Then, there was a huge BUT...there is a new type of treatment that I could give a try. No guarantees. It could just speed up the inevitable. Or, it could work. Immunotherapy.

A two week all inclusive stay in Southampton Hospital (not quite the Caribbean!), blood transfusions, fluids, blood tests, a colonoscopy, more scans than I can count, steroids, sickness...but most importantly 4 wonderful infusions of Ipilimumab and Nivolumab brought us to the best news we could imagine in January 2017. A PET scan had shown that, whilst the tumours are still there, they had shrunk massively, and gone "cold". That's right, they no longer contain any active cancer cells. There is no evidence of disease in my body.

I didn't even know this could happen, and I think my Doctor's were just as shocked! So the situation now... I am currently not on treatment, and have regular scans to make sure everything continues in the same way. All subsequent scans have been just as wonderful, and all we can wish for is more of the same.

I could not have asked for better care in Southampton Hospital. My team, Dr Karydis, Dr Wheater, Dr Ottensmeier, Dr Jenks, and my very very very lovely Helen Moorey were my world for a time, and continue to be the family that we lean on as we continue this journey with Southampton Hospital. Not to mention all the other wonderful Doctor's and Nurses I was, and continue to be, supported by. Given the cards we were dealt, we could not have been in a better place, and this is why I am asking for all the support you can give to the You're It fundraising campaign.

My story is not unique, and I know of many others who have not been lucky enough to have such a fantastic response. I also know of many who have responded well. Either way, Immunotherapy is revolutionary, and I can't wait to see how it evolves over time...hopefully allowing more and more people to benefit.

I urge you to please take a look at the campaign's website, as they can put their work into far better words than I can, however in short; all money raised will go towards the new 4,000m², four-storey Centre for Cancer Immunology, housing state-of-the-art equipment to support the development of new cancer immunotherapies – from discovery in the lab through to clinical trials.

The Centre will be home to:

world-class research facilities

a specialist clinical trials unit

a suite of molecular biology laboratories

existing immunology teams from different research bases

at least 50 new staff, including important recruits in discovery science

I am living proof that Immunotherapy works, I truly believe it is the answer to Cancer treatment of the future.

When we decided to do some fundraising, I wanted to pick something big, something unique, something I would never normally do, something that would be a big challenge. So here it is, 100 miles on a bike on Saturday 7th April 2018...hope you're feeling generous!

Thank you for reading my story. Thank you to our own personal tribe of know who you are, our besties and family that continue to see us through this everyday. Please share as far and wide as you can, let's smash our target!