AN EPIC cycle ride reached its conclusion at the weekend – as a junior doctor was welcomed back to St Richard’s Hospital with open arms.
Linda Mizun, 27, burst into the office of the Love Your Hospital charity at the Chichester hospital in April, announcing she was going to ride nearly 4,000km around Portugal to fundraise for the hospital.
“She’s an amazing doctor,” said Lesley-Anne Lloyd, head of charity operations at Love Your Hospital.
“She’s a real bundle of energy and passionate about her patients and she wanted to do something a bit different.”
Lesley-Anne said Linda identified a £120,000 piece of equipment for the hospital, which helps diagnose bowel cancer at early stages and allows it to be treated.
Linda set off in June and was on the road for 36 days, during which time she met some incredible people.
“There’s always somebody there to help you,” said Linda. “It’s about your attitude. If you’re good to the road, the road is good to you.”
She added: “You find so many amazing people in the streets.”
It was not all plain sailing; she endured a range of weather conditions, including torrential rain which at times left her depressed, but she did not give up.
“I always kept my smile,” she said. “The most important thing was to try to smile more than anyone in a car who’s comfortable.”
She made the amazing effort to highlight the importance of diagnosing bowel cancer early, and to fundraise for an OR1 laparoscopic integrated theatre for the hospital.
“My grandfather died from bowel cancer, and bowel cancer is one of the cancers that we can treat if you’re diagnosed early,” she said. “And, even though the GPs are telling everyone what to do, people aren’t aware of that.”
Although people are sometimes reluctant to have a colonoscopy, Linda said it can be ‘life-saving’.
“I just really wanted to get the word out there that diagnosing it early and going to a GP can save your grandfather.”
Having started at St Richard’s in February, 2012, she praised all her friends and colleagues at the hospital for their support, both to her and all junior doctors: “I’ve never seen anybody care so much about their patients. As I was biking I was thinking of all the great people here.”
Linda arrived in Portsmouth on Saturday, setting off for Chichester on Sunday morning with an escort of around 20 riders from the Portsmouth North End Cycling Club and bikers from the Midhurst Motorcycling Club.
Paul Martin, secretary of the cycling club, said he received a phone call from Love Your Hospital on Wednesday asking for their support.
“We’re really pleased we were asked. We’re by no means professional but we like what we do and are so glad we were able to help these guys.”
He praised Linda, adding: “Her enthusiasm is incredible – when we turned up at Gunwharf she literally jumped for joy.”
She was greeted at St Richard’s with champagne and a barbecue and many stories to tell of her travels – including when she was unexpectedly awoken one morning by some builders.
“Every night I slept outside on the street – most of the time just in my sleeping bag,” she said.
Towards the end of her journey she camped in a French town next a partly-built house.
That morning she had an unexpected awakening.
“When I opened my eyes, there were a couple of guys with a cup of coffee,” she said.
Linda completed her journey in 36 days and so far has raised nearly £2,000 towards the £120,000 target for St Richard’s.
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/lovechichester, donate to the hospital itself, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0800 028 4890.
The Love Your Hospital charity raises money and manages fundraising for the three hospitals that make up the Western Sussex Hospitals Charitable Trust: St Richard’s Hospital, Worthing Hospital and Southlands Hospital.
For more information visit www.loveyourhospital.org