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Cycling, trekking and canoeing for charity: Dr Shivani Bailey tells all

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Shivani Bailey is taking on not one but two charity challenges for Action Medical Research in 2017. 7 May she'll be riding 100 miles on the Suffolk Sunrise and 8 July she's taking on the Race the Sun Isle of Wight.

In her professional guise, Shivani is also 'Dr Bailey' of the University of Cambridge and was awarded a Research Training Fellowship (RTF) by Action in 2014. The RTF scheme supports promising doctors and researchers early in their careers. Action-funded Fellows carry out a key piece of research to help children and undertake training to develop their research expertise.

We caught up with Shivani recently and asked her about both her medical research and sporting challenges.

Tell us a little about the research you are undertaking as part of your RTF?

"I'm studying a possible new treatment for germ cell cancers (GCC), one that improves survival rates and causes fewer long-term effects. Up to 45 children are diagnosed with GCC every year in the UK.1 Some of these cancers occur in the ovaries or testes (germ cells develop into eggs and sperm); the rest occur elsewhere in the body, including the brain. Although survival rates are high, some children still die of their disease and current treatments can lead to life-long health problems in survivors."

What inspired you to research in this area?

"I have an interest in children’s cancer and, when I return to clinical practice, I hope to complete my training to become a Paediatric Oncologist. The cure rates for children’s cancer in this country are excellent and have improved dramatically in the last few decades. What we need to focus on now is how to cure children better; to develop ‘cleaner’ treatments that are more targeted and have fewer side effects, particularly long-term side effects like secondary cancers and cardiac and lung toxicity seen with a lot of current chemotherapy schedules."

What inspired you to take on the Suffolk Sunrise and Race the Sun challenges?

"I’ve always felt grateful to have been awarded a RTF by Action Medical Research. I'm also acutely aware that my research has been made possible by the dedication of thousands of marathon runners, sportive cyclists, volunteer group members and other committed individuals who have taken the time and effort to raise money for the work that the charity does. I guess I just felt it was high time I joined their ranks!"

What's your usual fitness routine when you're not in the lab?

"Well… the truth is that working five days a week in the lab and having two young children (my daughter Aria is three and a half years old and my son Arun is nearly 10 months old) makes training quite a challenge! In the summer, my husband James and I used to take turns to go out on quick training rides in the evening after work. We go on longer rides at the weekend, either alone or with the kids in the bike trailer. We also set up our road bikes on the turbo trainer for indoor training during the winter. And we've been pretty good at using the turbo in the evenings once the kids are asleep, when things aren't extra busy at work! I’m really looking forward to more sunshine and getting out on the road more!

I do cycle between the Park and Ride and the centre of Cambridge to and from work every weekday, so even when I don’t have the time to train, I make sure I really push myself on my commutes."

Race the Sun Isle of Wight is a team challenge - cycling 44 miles, treking the Tennyson Trail and canoeing 1.5km on the River Medina - who else is in your team?

"My husband, Dr James Bailey (who is also doing the 100 mile Suffolk Sunrise with me) and our friends Dr Lauren Hoare and Mr Richard Constable. James is a Senior Registrar in Acute Medicine and Stroke at Ipswich Hospital. Lauren is a Consultant in Acute Medicine at Ipswich Hospital, and Rick is an ex-military engineer who now works for Aston Martin. Rick is, unsurprisingly, our chief navigator for Race the Sun. Rick and Lauren are getting married in June – so how better to celebrate your new marriage than by cycling, hiking and canoeing across the Isle of Wight!"

How's your training going and how are you feeling?

"The training is going well. I’ve always been quite an active person and exercise – particularly cycling and running –helps me relax and de-stress. I bought my road bike just after my son was born in the summer of last year. Having a small baby can be so all-consuming sometimes and getting out on my bike, even just for an hour or so, when he was tiny was incredibly helpful for my mental and physical health. Now I’m back at work, long rides are the only time I can really clear my head. Research is a lot like having a small baby too – it’s pretty all-consuming! Having a few hours on my bike allows me to look at my work with a fresh perspective when I get back to it."

How's your fundraising going?

"Work has been so busy that I haven’t had time yet to arrange fundraising activities, but I have spread the word amongst friends and family. I'm a keen baker and will probably have a mini bake sale at work closer to the time."

What's your favourite post-exercise snack?

"You won’t find this in a healthy living magazine, but my favourite post-exercise snack is a slice of homemade extra-nutty chocolate refrigerator cake. I’m still breastfeeding my 10-month-old, so actually I need to make sure I take on enough calories on days when I do intensive training sessions, so a slice (or two!) of that usually gets me sorted."

At Action Medical Research, we offer some incredible charity events whatever your ambitions,
sporting ability or location. Cick here for more information.



To sponsor Shivani for the Suffolk Sunrise:

To sponsor Shivani for the Race the Sun Isle of Wight: