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Health expert to cycle from Vietnam to Cambodia in aid of Breast Cancer Now

University of Gloucestershire’s Ellie Sonmezer is preparing for a demanding six-day trek across parts of South East Asia in aid of the national charity that helped to save her life.

Ellie, Associate Head of the University’s School of Health and Social Care, is looking to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer Now by making the 468km journey from Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City to Angkor Wat in Cambodia by bike.

The charity is dedicated to funding research into breast cancer prevention and providing information and support to those who have been affected by the disease.

Ellie said: “I had breast cancer in 2016 and the charity supported me with education and general support. Additionally, I have several friends affected by breast cancer. Now I’m fit and well, I want to give back so that the charity can help others in their time of need.

“I would like to bring attention to the importance of people checking themselves and, if necessary, seeking early treatment to try and give themselves the best chance possible of recovery.”

Ellie began her training over the Christmas and New Year holiday with her close friend, Penny Hutchinson, who will be accompanying her on the challenge.

The duo will be going on long bike rides in the UK to try and prepare their minds and bodies to some of the challenges they may face in Vietnam and Cambodia. Their preparations will also include support and advice from the University’s sport and exercise experts.

Despite the many obstacles she is expecting to face in Vietnam and Cambodia, Ellie said she was looking forward to putting her mental and physical powers to the test when the challenge gets under way in April next year.

Ellie said: “Having never been to Vietnam or Cambodia, I thought the different climate, language and food would combine to make this a real challenge and worthy of sponsorship.

“I am always inspired by the strength of those who have serious illness but carry on, so I thought that doing this could bring my strength and courage to the fore and put them to the test.

“Though I really enjoy cycling and the landscape will be beautiful, I’m certainly expecting that the hot temperatures will pose a serious challenge.

“We’re hoping to complete the journey in six days of cycling, and I think spending so many hours in the saddle will be the worst part, especially when you are feeling tired.

“Fortunately, Penny is the snack queen and will keep me supplied constantly, to keep my sugar levels up. Thankfully, I am good at focusing on the end goal and keeping a smile on my face.”

Ellie is planning to hold a series of fundraising activities, including skittles nights, raffles and wine-tasting events, as well as a JustGiving page to raise funds for Breast Cancer Now.

Image: left to right, Ellie Sonmezer and Penny Hutchinson preparing for a demanding six-day trek across parts of South East Asia in aid of a national charity