An inspirational man, who won the BBC Sport Personalitys Helen Rollason Award last year, is preparing to complete the 26-mile Virgin London Marathon this month in 26 hours for 26 charities: one of those charities is the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.
Phil Packer, who sustained spinal injuries while serving with the British Armed Forces in February 2008, was told he would never walk again. However since this devastating news, Phil has set himself physical challenges and this year he plans to walk the 26-mile London Marathon in aid of 26 charities in 26 hours (last year it took him 14 days).
Joining Phil on the Helen Rollason Cancer Charitys mile will be cancer support centre user Stephanie Houltby.
Stephanie said: Im really looking forward to walking with Phil and I feel it is a real privilege to be part of this and help raise money for a charity I feel so passionately about.
The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity provides cancer patients with access to therapies including counseling, reflexology, manual lymph drainage, aromatherapy and Bach flower remedies. The charity aims to support to cancer patients and their carers throughout varying stages of peoples cancer journeys.
The money raised on behalf of the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity will be ploughed in to help cancer patients in the south east benefit from centres like the ones in Edmonton (London), Chelmsford (Essex) and Sawbridgeworth (Herts).
26-year-old Stephanie has been using the Helen Rollason Cancer Support Centre at North Middlesex University Hospital, Edmonton, since her diagnosis of Hodgkins Lymphoma in February 2009.
Stephanie added: Within a few days of beginning my chemotherapy I was booked in for my first appointment with one of the therapists at the Helen Rollason Cancer Support Centre.
The reflexology sessions not only gave me the opportunity to talk openly about how I was feeling, they provided a space to relax and feel at ease from the grinding chemo regime.
Its often heard that people feel lost once their chemotherapy or radiotherapy finishes and the appointment cycle slows, however when I completed my treatment, the Helen Rollason Cancer Support Centre was there for me.
After my eventful year I am now back to work and enjoying the feeling of being in remission. I can honestly say I dont think my recovery would have gone so smoothly without the welcome and caring nature of everyone at the support centre.
Phil Packer decided to choose the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity after winning the BBC Sport Personality of the Year Helen Rollason Award at the end of 2009. He was inspired by Helen Rollasons battle with cancer in the public eye and wanted to find out more about her legacy.
He said: I have now realised that while in hospital, the support from many people assisted me through the dark times. The question that I keep asking myself is: What if I did not have this support? I am now committed to ensuring I give as much as I can to those people that need support through those dark days.
Helen Rollason Cancer Support Centre co-ordinator, at the charitys centre in Edmonton, Rebecca Brainerd said: People coming to the centre often say how beneficial they find our services. We try to encourage a peaceful environment in which people living with cancer can come and not feel judged.
We were absolutely delighted Phil could visit us, talk with the therapists and cancer patients. We hope he got a real sense of what the charity is about.
For more information about Phil and his London Marathon challenge www.philpacker.com
To sponsor Phil on his marathon challenge and help raise money for the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity visit www.helenrollason.org.uk/philpacker.php
Press contact: PR Officer – Melissa Matthews 01245 514700
***Please note a photo of Stephanie Houltby and Phil Packer is available on request.
The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has four cancer support centres: two in Chelmsford, Essex; one in North Middlesex Hospital, London; and another in Sawbridgeworth, Hertfordshire, offering support to cancer patients along with their carers, family and friends.
The support centres offer counselling and a range of complementary therapies including reflexology, aromatherapy, counselling, massage and Manual Lymph Drainage.
The charity has a research laboratory at Anglia Ruskin University undertaking world-class research into a new potential biomarker and investigating whether we can predict responses to chemotherapy.
There is also a team of research nurses caring for cancer patients on clinical drug trials offered by the charity.
The charity has 11 retail shops in Hertfordshire, Essex and London and aims to extend its recently launched cancer support groups.
The charity, named after the first woman to present Grandstand, BBC Sports Helen Rollason MBE, marked its 10th anniversary of Helens involvement throughout 2009.
The BBC sport journalist gave her name and image to the charity, before she died of cancer in 1999, in a bid to attract national and international support.
She shared the vision of her oncologist, Professor Neville Davidson, that people should be treated as a whole and not just their illness.
She said: "Good quality of life while coping with cancer is the most important gift a sick person can receive; it should be available to everyone."
The charity receives limited funding, but relies heavily on funding from the community.
Registered Charity No. 1052861
Patron: Lord Coe KBE