Riding for Robyn and cancer research

Karen White, a nursing director at the Flinders Medical Centre, participated in the Flinders Foundation’s ‘Cycle Cambodia’ to raise funds for cancer and honour her late sister, Flinders University researcher Robyn Flook, who passed away from the disease in 2017.

Ms White is Director of Nursing and Midwifery Education and Research at the Flinders Medical Centre. She was part of a team of ten who took part in the event in March 2018, cycling across Cambodia to raise $56,000 for cancer research at the Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer (FCIC) and patient support at the Cancer Care Centre.

“I hadn’t been on a bike for 20 years, and even then, the furthest I rode was probably 10km along flat bike paths,” Ms White said.

“Riding over 340km in Cambodia, along questionable surfaces and in tough conditions was just so far out of my comfort zone.”

Her sister Ms Flook was the long-running co-ordinator of the SA Brain Bank at Flinders University and helped to establish the co-located SA Neurological Tumour Bank.

Ms White would accompany her sister to medical appointments and treatment throughout her cancer battle.

“The cruel irony was that the very thing she was fighting was the same thing that took her,” she said.

“Robyn of all people was so desperate to find cures for diseases which affected the brain, but her breast cancer spread to her brain and it was those secondary brain tumours which just couldn’t be beaten.”

Ms White said she thought about her sister constantly on the ride.

She said there were some days where she felt she could not get on her bike.

“But then I thought it was nowhere near as bad as what Robyn went through, so I’d say to myself, just get on the bike Karen!”

Karen was joined on the ride by others who had lost a loved one or are passionate about cancer research, including Flinders Foundation CEO Amanda Shiell, Flinders’ Head of Respiratory and Sleep Services Dr Jeff Bowden and FCIC Oncologist and Researcher Dr Ganessan Kichenadasse – who was also Ms Flook’s oncologist.

Contact the Flinders Foundation team on 8204 5216 to find out about future Foundation adventures.

Karen White (right) with Flinders Foundation CEO Amanda Shiell
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