Putting their neck out for patients

26 June 2017

Members of staff from Sunderland Royal Hospital as well as the colleague of a patient have raised an amazing £2,500 to support patients with head and neck cancers.

Mandeep Bhabra (Speech and Language Therapist), Mr Michael Nugent (Oral Maxillofacial Surgeon) and Ms Nashreen Oozeer (Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant) and Robert Otterson of Carillion Training Services took part in the Sunderland 10K – Consultant Surgeon Mr Christopher Hartley also completed the Sunderland Half Marathon, but on crutches because of a severe knee injury.

Head and neck cancers include some of the less common types of cancer, with around 10,000 individuals diagnosed in the UK each year. Nonetheless the conditions have a huge impact on the lives of those living with them; the most common head and neck cancer is of the mouth (also known as oral cancer) which has the capacity to affect almost all areas of someone’s life.

That the Sunderland Royal Head and Neck team are undertaking such vital work to save and support individuals with these cancers every day, and then go above and beyond training and fundraising in their own time, speaks of the calibre of hospital staff in Sunderland.

Mr Hartley has been a Consultant at Sunderland Royal Hospital since 2003, and was lead cancer clinician for 7 years of his career in Sunderland. On he and the team’s inspiration to fundraise, he said:

Firstly we hope to raise the profile of head and neck cancer in the region, but also to have funds to enhance the care of our patients. Specifically, there are some items of equipment that we may be able to fund in part from our hospital charity which will enable us to reduce the side effects of treatment in many of our patients.

Mr Hartley received a great deal of support on the day from the people of Sunderland, with many clearly inspired by his dedication to complete the course even with an injury, and managed to complete the course in 02:44:25 despite the handicap.

Robert Otterson completed the 10K and raised £1,129 (more than double his target) in honour of Steve Olsen, a colleague of his and himself a patient at Sunderland Royal Hospital. “Steve is a top bloke and so raising this sum to support people with head and neck cancer in Sunderland is the least I could do. I’ve had a huge amount of support from my employer Carillion, who are committed to doing go od as they go about business and really believe in Sunderland.”

Robert and line manager Ralph Need who have worked closely with Mr Olsen for 15 years, were able to stop by Sunderland Royal Hospital to meet some of the head and neck team and Mr Olsen’s parents – all of which were touched by Robert and Carillion’s passion for their cause.