Royal Free Hopsital nurses take on triathlon to raise awareness of rare cancer

Nurses Jorge Hernandez-Garcia and Philippa Davies completed the London active triathlon to raise fun

Nurses Jorge Hernandez-Garcia and Philippa Davies completed the London active triathlon to raise funds for the Royal Free Hospital. Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

A pair of tireless Royal Free specialist nurses have taken part in a gruelling triathlon to raise awareness of a rare form of cancer.

Jorge Hernandez-Garcia and Philippa Davies, who work in the pioneering neuroendocrine tumours (NET) unit at the Hampstead hospital, have spent the last eight months juggling their day jobs with an intense regime of 10 to 15 hours-a-week swimming, cycling and running in the build-up to the race.

They completed the 51.5km Virgin Active London Triathlon at the ExCel Centre on Sunday.

The medics have so far raised £4,400 for research, as well as increasing awareness of NETs – a rare cancer occurring most commonly in the digestive system.

Ms Davies, 38, who has worked at the Royal Free for eight years, said: “The time to diagnosis is still far too long, so there’s still work being done at trying to raise awareness.

“When you’re doing research like this, obviously trials are expensive, so it’s about making sure that we can have members of staff who can do this research with us.”

The NET unit at the Royal Free was the first in the UK to be named a centre of excellence by the European Neuroendocrine Tumours Society and it treats patients from all over the country.

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Hampstead resident Mr Hernandez-Garcia, 33, who worked as an intensive care nurse before moving to the NET unit four years ago, said: “The treatments the money will fund are not the treatments that are currently ongoing.

“More research is needed and that’s why it’s so important that we get this moving forward.

“This is the first time that we are doing a proper fundraising campaign and so far the results have been amazing. We didn’t expect these responses, so we are very, very happy.”

With no previous triathlon experience, the duo took to some of north London’s best-known outdoor spaces as training facilities – running on Hampstead Heath, up to Kenwood House and around Regent’s Park, and swimming in Hampstead Heath Lido.

“We’ve been training since December and have to do two to three swims a week, two to three cycles a week, and two to three runs every week,” said Ms Davies, who lives in Camden. “I just want to finish it without drowning!

“We’d just like to thank all the patients and families for their support, and to everyone who has sponsored us.”

You can sponsor Jorge and Philippa online at