Mater People ride to raise funds for cancer

Thursday 14 March 2024

For Mater Private Hospital Brisbane orthopaedic surgeon Nicola Ward, taking part in the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge cycling event is all about celebrating community.

"It’s an annual event held in memory of Adam Smiddy, a kind-hearted physiotherapist and triathlete who tragically passed away from an aggressive melanoma at the young age of 26,” Dr Ward said.

The 670-kilometre event, to be held this year in South Australia in March, raises funds for melanoma, prostate, breast and ovarian cancer research at Mater.

Dr Ward said her team, The Pedalling Princesses, was part of a larger group of about 25 Mater People who rode together every Tuesday and Wednesday and who have signed up for this year’s charity ride.

“These weekly rides are now part of our training routine,” she said.

“Most people in this part of the world have been touched by melanoma in some way, so it is great to come together, share stories, and add to the more than $13 million that has been raised since the event started in 2006.”

“At the end of the day’s riding, we all get into a huddle and people share their personal cancer-connection stories and there’s not a dry eye in the house.”

Brian-Gabrielli.jpgAnother Mater Person riding in the challenge is Mater Research Professorial Research Fellow and Head of the Smiling for Smiddy Cell Cycle Research Group Professor Brian Gabrielli.

Prof Gabrielli said the challenge is an incredible event and a wonderful opportunity to connect the work being done in research with those raising funds to support that work.

“It’s particularly meaningful for me, because the funds raised by the Smiling for Smiddy Challenge helps support some of the research in my lab,” he said.

"One of the major focusses is refining a new treatment that we have shown targets a defect that is common in many types of cancer, especially melanoma, some lung cancers and ovarian cancer.”

“The exciting part of the treatment is that, not only does it selectively kill the tumour, meaning there are few side effects of the treatment compared to conventional chemotherapy, it also triggers an anti-tumour immune response. The success of immunotherapy in some cancers has demonstrated that recruiting the patient’s immune system can lead to long-term remissions. We are currently working to have this treatment trialled in ovarian cancer patients at Mater in the near future.”

More than $207,000 has already been raised for this year’s event, before it kicks off on Tuesday 19 March.

About 70 cyclists will ride through South Australia’s most picturesque countryside, with the event concluding on 23 March.

You can learn more about Smiling for Smiddy events here.