Lecturer’s incurable cancer story inspires Leeds students to take on Yorkshire Three Peaks

Physiotherapy lecturer Kate Burke was diagnosed with incurable cancer five years ago.
Physiotherapy lecturer Kate Burke was diagnosed with incurable cancer five years ago.
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The bravery and determination of a Leeds lecturer with incurable cancer has inspired nine of her students to take on a 24-mile fundraising hike.

Respiratory physiotherapist and lecturer Kate Burke, from Kirkstall, spoke out about living with secondary breast cancer earlier this year in a bid to raise awareness of the YEP’s A Million for Maggie’s campaign.

The campaign launched in the hope of raising a seven-figure sum to make dreams of a new Maggie’s cancer support centre opposite the Bexley Wing at Leeds St James’s Hospital a reality.

Kate, 40, revealed that after being diagnosed with incurable cancer that had spread to her liver, lungs and bones five years ago, she has been left battling the effects of draining chemotherapy while continuing to work full-time.

Inspired by her story, nine of Kate’s Leeds Beckett University physiotherapy students have braved the Yorkshire Three Peaks in her honour, raising almost £1,200.

Liz Woolley, 24, from Huddersfield, was one of the students who helped to organise the hiking challenge.

She said: “She’s [Kate] done a lecture in the past saying what it’s like to be a patient and she said, ‘you’ve no idea how many times I’ve been outside this lecture to be sick from the chemo’.

“That kind of strength to just carry on and get on with life - we are just so inspired by it. We value her so much and she’s a good lecturer, she’s always so positive.”

Liz was joined by fellow students Jess Hall, Niki Connor, Phil Duboulay, Becky Green, Sarah Kerford, Kayleigh Sawkins, Cara Woodards, and Scott Pendleton on the trek, which took place late last month.

Many of the students have spent time on placement on St James’s Bexley Wing cancer wards, making the idea of fundraising for an innovative support centre just yards from its doors an appealing prospect.

Jess Hall, Niki Connor, Phil Duboulay, Liz Woolley, Becky Green, Sarah Kerford, Kayleigh Sawkins, Cara Woodards and Scott Pendleton during the challenge.

Jess Hall, Niki Connor, Phil Duboulay, Liz Woolley, Becky Green, Sarah Kerford, Kayleigh Sawkins, Cara Woodards and Scott Pendleton during the challenge.

Liz added: “As trained physiotherapists we take a holistic approach, it’s about listening to patients and what they want, so just to have that extra support available would be great.”

The Maggie’s charity offers free practical, emotional and social support to people in non-clinical, friendly settings.

Kate said: “I’m delighted and very humbled that they decided to do this event. It’s a lovely gesture and they’ve raised a lot of money.”

Ben Feely, fundraising manager for Maggie’s Yorkshire, said: “They’ve raised an amazing amount of money, which will go towards helping us to build a new cancer support centre in Leeds, which will provide support to anyone affected by cancer across Yorkshire.”

To donate visit justgiving.com/fundraising/MScPhysio or for more on the campaign visit maggiescentres.org/millionformaggies.

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