Cancer survivor Todd Whiteford, 29, from Perth and friend Ross Mackay, 30, from Glasgow are about to embark on a gruelling and arduous challenge not for the faint-hearted, all in the name of the newly formed Beatson Cancer Charity.
The adrenaline seekers have signed up to the Marathon Des Sables which will see them run 140 miles across the Sahara Desert in soaring 50 degree Celsius temperatures battling scorpions, brutal terrain including desert mountains, arid saltpans and rough sandstorms. This time last year Todd went through an immensely difficult time as he received chemotherapy for testicular cancer at the Beatson. He saw first-hand how the centre gives patients the encouragement, support and expertise to battle cancer and win. This inspired Todd and his close friend Ross, who he met at university, to give something back to those who helped him and his family so much.
Todd said: “For me, doing something to support the Beatson was a no-brainer. During my cancer scare last year, the people at the treatment centre showed professionalism and encouragement in the care they gave me. I would always champion them when it comes to fundraising - they deserve every penny. Their energy in the face of adversity is exactly what Ross and I would like to emulate when we get out to the Sahara.
”The Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre is the UK’s busiest cancer centre, and the new charity aims to provide funding in excess of £20 million over the next five years to help battle Scotland’s biggest killer. Ross and Todd’s fundraising will contribute to this target with the money helping to enhance the experience and wellbeing for patients and their families, including the 8,000 new patients who are treated at the Beatson every year.
Todd and Ross are determined to raise as much money as possible and feel the race couldn’t have come at a better time. They have dreamt of taking on this challenge for six years so when the opportunity came up, and despite Todd undergoing treatment in the Beatson, they both felt the urge to take this chance and show their determination to beat cancer.
Todd added: “If you're doing a challenge, why go for one of the middle ones? Since we've known each other, Ross and I have always pushed ourselves and each other into doing difficult and some may say reckless challenges. For some strange reason, we want to test ourselves - so maybe it was inevitable that we'd end up doing the 'Toughest Footrace known to man'.
”Ross’s employer, Accenture, has kindly signed up to match-fund some of their fundraising, which the charity are very grateful for. They have currently raised about £3000 with the amount increasing daily. Ross said: “We’re delighted to be taking on the Sahara for Team Beatson. The Beatson is an inspiration so when we face challenging moments in the desert, their support will drive us on.
”David Welch, Chief Executive of the Beatson Cancer Charity said: “We are extremely grateful to fundraisers Todd and Ross for their sheer determination, dedication and passion. Their support for the Beatson is incredibly awe-inspiring and we wish them all the best for the next few weeks ahead.
“Money raised from the challenge will further enhance our vision which is to ensure the Beatson’s rightful status as one of the world’s leading centres fighting cancer.
”The charity provides funding for enhanced patient and family support services and facilities, innovative medical equipment, novel research and additional staff training and development."
Over £800,000 a year is already committed to funding 19 specialist posts including nursing, radiography, physics and research-based staff.
Take a look at these brilliant clips of Todd and Ross when they stopped by the Beatson to tell us all about their upcoming adventure.