Joanna’s Story: Taking on RideLondon for Guts UK

30th July 2019

On Sunday 4th August, Team Guts UK (also known as the Gut Army) will be taking on the challenge of Ride London- one of the greatest cycling events in the world.

Most of our Gut Army will be taking on the Ride London 100, which starts at the Olympic Park in East London and finishing on The Mall. The stunning 100-mile route takes riders on a staggering journey through iconic London landmarks and stunning Surrey countryside. With two big climbs on the way, the 100 mile course is a real challenge – and one we’re delighted our supporters are ready to take on for our cause.

Team Guts UK will be supporting crucial research into diseases of the gut, liver and pancreas. Many of our riders know all too well the devastating impact that digestive disorders can have on families, and want to live in a world where digestive conditions are better understood, better treated & everyone who lives with one gets the support that they need.

Joanna Gambell was delighted to obtain her own place in the Ride London 46, and instantly went about fundraising for Guts UK in memory of her father, Derek.

Why did you choose to ride for Guts UK?

I chose Guts UK because I wanted to specifically raise money for research into oesophageal cancer. My father was diagnosed in November 2017, despite having regular checkups due to his pre-existing Barrett’s Oesophagus. He was a fit and healthy man and even though he was seen as soon as he had symptoms, his cancer was at an advanced stage.

He dealt with chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, and had such an inspiring and amazing determination to get well. Sadly due to the after-effects of the surgery, he was unable to eat and lost a lot of weight, leaving him vulnerable to infection. He died in hospital of pneumonia after being informed that his cancer was no longer treatable in December 2018. I hope that more research can be done into the benefit of early screening and novel treatment methods, as well as better follow up/dietetic/psychological support for patients who undergo this type of treatment and surgery, to improve their quality of life and the impact this has on their survival.

Ride London is just around the corner now, how are you feeling about it?

I am excited about riding in London on Sunday. Knowing that I’m riding for charity, and riding in memory of my dad has helped get me out on my bike for training. Training for RL 46 has also helped me rediscover my fitness and my love for being active, which I struggled with after my father died.

Is this your first time taking on the 46-mile route?

I completed the 46 mile event in 2017, as my first organised cycle event, having not been on a bike for years, and absolutely loved it. I’ve upgraded my bike since then, and I’ve been training hard to get my legs ready for cycling 46 miles and getting a faster time than in 2017.

Do you have any other challenges in the firing line?

I love participating in organised events, so I’ve always got something in the diary. This year I’ve been concentrating on cycling and swimming, for Ride London 46, a sprint triathlon and a 1k timed swim with Marathon Swims in November. In 2020 I’ll be working towards taking on the Triple 5k Swimathon in March; 3 x 5km swims over 3 days.

Joanna and her father, Derek

Joanna’s journey back to fitness following a family tragedy is uplifting enough, but her desire to help others by funding future research into oesophageal cancer is inspirational.

To take on an event for Guts UK click here

More information on oesophageal cancer:

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