Rugby team takes on 200-mile cycle after player’s wife survives cervical cancer
A devoted husband is cycling from Northampton to Exeter with his former rugby teammates to raise money for a cervical cancer charity.
Jo Painter, of Wootton, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2018 when she was just 38 and was supported by charity, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust throughout her gruelling six weeks of chemoradiotherapy treatment.
Jo said: “I was up-to-date with my smear tests, all of which had been negative so I’ll never forget hearing those words from my consultant – 'you have cervical cancer'.
"Being physically fit and relatively young, it came as a huge shock to all my family and friends. Breaking the news to my husband and my mum was one of the hardest things I’d ever had to do.
"The strength I got came from my two young sons. They were my world and still so young, so I was desperate to protect them. I had to stay positive and strong and I knew this dreadful disease was not going to take me away from them. It wasn’t an option.”
Now, her husband Neil has put together a 50-strong group of friends who will cycle a mammoth 206 miles from Northampton to Exeter, to raise money for Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust.
Neil played for Bugbrooke Rugby Club from the age of 15, as did many of the cyclists taking part.
The peloton, made up of ex-Bugbrooke Rugby Club players and their family and friends, initially aimed to raise £20,000 through their three-day cycle but have already beaten this target and are now aiming to raise £25,000.
Neil added: "Finding out that Jo had cancer was horrendous.
"However, with amazing treatment and support, Jo has come out the other end fighting fit. Her journey continues with the after-effects of chemoradiation but Jo considers herself 'one of the lucky ones'.
"Going through this with Jo spurred me on to do something as a way of helping others in our situation. The charity works to prevent more families from going through what we have, so we want to get there as fast as we can."
The Premiership Rugby teams Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs are supporting the cycle. The Saints displayed Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust’s logo on their match day shirts against Bath in March.
The end of the cycle will coincide with the Exeter vs Saints match on May 19.
There will be 300 Northampton to Exeter cycle supporters at the match, celebrating their achievement and the Exeter Chiefs are running a coaching session for the Bugbrooke Mini team on the morning of the match.
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