PIONEERING scientific research may seem a far cry from the mayhem of a fun run but fundraising frivolity really is a serious business.

Thousands of mid Cheshire women will be joining in one of the area’s Race for Life events this summer and without them, Cancer Research UK would not be able to make the north west the beacon of research that it is.

The Guardian spoke to clinical research nurse Helen Ferns, at The Christie Hospital, in Manchester, to find out just how vital the races are.

Helen, who lives in Kingsmead, said: “The Race for Life is important for the fundraising and also because it’s about women coming together and thinking about health.

“Cancer Research UK is a national charity and operates in every part of the UK but a lot more money than we raise here comes back to the north west.”

Cancer Research UK spends £15million a year in Manchester and Liverpool funding groundbreaking work to understand cancer, find ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease and improve the quality of life for patients.

A new treatment centre and trials unit is being built at The Christie, with £4.2million of the cost coming from Cancer Research UK.

Helen, 41, said: “The new unit is going to double the size of the current one.

“This will enable us to recruit more patients to take part in clinical trials and do more complex trials.

“It will speed up the process – the aim is to make available all of the new cancer treatment to people in the north west.

“It can take 20 years to develop a drug so the more patients we can get in clinical trials the more we can speed up the process and get these treatments on the market.

“Having the bigger unit will enable us to get answers quicker – today’s trial is tomorrow’s treatment.”

She added: “This will be the biggest clinical unit in the world and there’s no way Cancer Research UK could have put so much money in without fundraising and that has helped us build the trial unit.”

Helen helped launch Race for Life in Manchester this year and is joining in one of the two Tatton Park events.

She is a cancer survivor herself after being diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2006.

She received six months of chemotherapy treatment, underwent a mastectomy on her left breast at the end of March 2007 at Wythenshawe Hospital and then faced 15 sessions of radiotherapy treatment at The Christie which finished in May 2007.

She is determined to succeed at Tatton, where there are 5K races on June 6 and 7.

The Tatton Park event is also one of only 12 Race for Life events across the country where women can double their challenge and run, jog or walk 10K instead of the usual 5K.

A total of 700 entrants have already applied to do just that.

Nelson Laurencia, Tatton Park Race for Life event manager, said: “Women who choose to take part in Race 10k can walk, jog or run.

“But by doubling their distance, they will also be doubling their fun and sense of personal achievement on the day.”

Places are still available at Tatton Park and in the Arley Hall race on July 5.

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