From Chemo to Cycling Cross-Country
Danielle Allen can give us all a lesson in positivity! A mere 9 weeks after completing her final session of chemotherapy following months of treatment for a very rare form of Gestational Trophoblastic Disease (GTD) called gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN), Danielle completed the 140-mile Coast 2 Coast (C2C) cycle ride from Whitehaven to Tynemouth in just two days.
She has been raising funds for the GTD team’s research project, Jean’s Trust, at the University of Sheffield. Danielle received treatment and support from the team at Weston Park Hospital, one of only 2 centres in the UK where research and treatment is carried out into GTN. She received the devastating diagnosis following a routine pregnancy scan, resulting in her losing the twins she was carrying.
“Although curable, I have gone through such a roller coaster of emotions as well as physical trauma … been in hospital several times, had a blood transfusion, PICC line fitted, months’ worth of chemo along with the emotional effects of it since February 2017”.
Despite all this, Danielle considers herself to be lucky to have come through the experience successfully, and was determined to raise awareness of this rare condition and fundraise for the GTD team.
Along with her husband and a friend, she tackled the scenic but tough C2C cycle route over only 2 days in early October. They found the ride a lot harder than they had expected with a fair few long, steep inclines and found that using mountain bikes made it even tougher.
Danielle’s efforts have been well rewarded though, by a fantastic response to her fundraising via Just Giving of over £1,800 including Gift Aid, almost double her original target of £1,000.
Donations can still be made via Danielle’s JustGiving page.
What is Gestational Trophoblastic Disease?
Gestational Trophoblastic Disease is a rare condition that can develop during pregnancy. The placenta is the organ that is normally formed as part of a healthy pregnancy and it produces hormones that help the baby grow and develop. It is made up of millions of cells called trophoblasts. In trophoblastic disease there is an abnormal overgrowth of all or part of the placenta. The trophoblastic cells do not grow as they should, and form a mass of abnormal cells in the uterus. The growth can be either benign or malignant. A malignant GTD is commonly called gestational trophoblastic neoplasia (GTN).
Following diagnosis, patients in the UK are registered with and followed up by one of three specialist centres, one of which is located at Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield. The Northern GTD centre at Weston Park Hospital registers approximately 600 new women annually. In most cases GTD is removed surgically and women are monitored with 2-weekly urine tests to ensure the disease is resolving spontaneously. However around 5-6 % of women diagnosed with GTD will develop persistent disease (GTN), and therefore will require chemotherapy. There are only two treatment centres in the UK, women from the North of England and Wales will travel to Sheffield for their treatment. The disease is chemotherapy sensitive and 98% curative.
Little is known about this rare disease and often many women and their families will not have heard of the disease. Women receiving treatment for GTN face a unique set of challenges associated with the loss of a pregnancy and a cancer diagnosis. It can be a very difficult and challenging time, and having a specialised centre for GTD plays a fundamental role in ensuring these patients are well supported throughout their journey. The specialist centre is very passionate about the work they do and research plays a fundamental part of the service. Internationally the UK is leading on GTD research and is currently involved in many research projects to improve the care and treatments given to patients. The aim of the GTD team’s work is to ensure they provide the best possible evidence based care for these patients.
The Sheffield Centre is led by gynaecologist Professor John Tidy as the Director, with Medical Oncologist Matt Winter as the deputy Director. Lead clinical nurse specialist Kam Singh is responsible for the day to day management of the service, with her team of clinical nurse specialists – Annie Hills, Sarah Gillett and Jane Ireson. Julie Ford and Tracey Byne provide the team’s admin support. The team also works very closely with other specialities including clinical chemistry, radiology and histopathology.
For further information about GTD, please visit the GTD Team website
To make a donation, please visit our Online Donation web page where you should choose 'Other' as the Fund Name and 'Jean’s Trust' in the 'Other' details box.
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