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Hitting the golf course to raise funds for thymic cancer research

23.04.18 Categories: Patient stories, Supporter stories,

Back in October 2016, golfer Wendy Lodder was diagnosed with thymic carcinoma, a rare gland cancer which occurs in the chest. 

Wendy’s condition went untreated for two years, in part due to the rarity of the condition (there are less than 10 cases a year in the UK) and her high pain threshold. 

She was increasingly aware of pain in her chest and back, as well as suffering from breathlessness, but attributed this to getting older. She also had anaemia, but linked that to going through menopause and a poor diet. 

She continued on as normal, but with everyday things becoming far more difficult. For example, playing golf became more of a challenge as a tumour that was growing in her chest had, in fact, broken her sternum and spread to her lung and spine. 

When it was finally diagnosed, Wendy was taken aback. ‘The shock of initially hearing the word cancer was hard, but I am determined to fight on, despite having had two courses of chemotherapy and two major chest operations in nine months,’ she says. 

‘I’m now on a pioneering immunotherapy drug and I’m hoping this will slow the progress of my aggressive cancer. But I want to try and change how treatment for this cancer is tackled, as chemotherapy and surgery are limiting.’ 

Expertise at Guy’s Cancer Centre 

Wendy has been able to access vital expertise for her condition at Guy’s Cancer Centre, but travelling from Colchester to London to receive treatment is a big effort. 

She says, ‘Thank goodness for my network of friends who have supported me so much through my journey – and to Greater Anglia Trains' staff who have made my travel to hospital hassle-free. They have been amazing.’

As a single figure golfer with a wide circle of golfing friends, Wendy decided to hold a golf day at the Three Rivers Golf and CountryClub in Essex on 26 July to raise funds for research into thymic carcinoma. She’s set herself an ambitious fundraising target of £20,000. 

First port of call was good friend, PGA and England coach, Sarah Bennett, who was happy to help - once the details were decided, the day was booked up within an hour! After 18 months, Wendy is out of the rough and on to the fairway with her treatment.  

Funding for thymic tumours research  

Wendy points out that the research will allow oncology teams to offer potentially life-saving treatments to patients battling this terrible disease. Currently chemotherapy and surgery are the only options available to treat thymic tumours, and without investment in research, less invasive therapies will continue to be out of reach to patients in the UK.   

Wendy continues, ‘Guy’s and St Thomas‘ and King’s College London need more support to advance research into better treatments for this type of cancer.  My ambition is to raise £20,000 for scientists to trial new personalised immunotherapies to treat thymic tumours at the hospital. The response so far has been amazing - every donation, however small, helps and is much appreciated.’

You can help Wendy hit her fundraising target here, or take on your own challenge to support Guy’s and St Thomas’s Hospital

Picture: Wendy with consultant oncologist Dr Rohit Lal