Kayaking for Cancer Support Mallorca.

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While Covid has taken over our lives, one must not forget that millions of people are still continuing to suffer from other illnesses and medical conditions, in particular cancer, which the medical community around the world is continuing to find cures for while tackling the pandemic. One way of easing the pressure on the health services and one’s own personal situation is being proactive with regard to cancer.

Last weekend, Sean Judkins, whose wife Anita was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago but is now clear, held his second multi-sports event to raise funds and awareness for Cancer Support Mallorca, who played a crucial role in helping Anita and the family deal with and overcome cancer.

Sean originally hails from New Zealand, where his uncle, Robin, founded the Coast to Coast race across New Zealand some 40 years ago. This is now an iconic multi-sport event - bike, kayak and run over 152 kilometres. Last year, in between lockdowns and restrictions, he organised a “fun” charity event, based on the same model, in aid of Cancer Support Mallorca.

Sean, who has been on the island now for 15 years and is a teacher at Agora School, is well known in the island’s rugby circles. He was instrumental in developing rugby fever in Mallorca but decided to take a departure from rugby a few years ago, the first time since he was four years old, and has since been exploring new challenges.

His favourite has become running in the Tramuntana Mountains, and this is key to the charity challenge. “It was a great event this year and it brought the whole community together in Es Capdella. Everybody, all nationalities, got involved in one way or another.

“The weather made the kayak stage a bit challenging, but the biking and running were great and a total of 68 people took part - seven individuals and the rest were teams of between two and five. Plus there were a few newcomers who struggled but full marks, they all finished and we had a great party at the Sa Vinya Bar and Restaurant where the finish line was.

“There were no prizes or trophies for the winners, that’s not what this event is about,” Sean, who completed the entire route himself, says. “It’s not a race, it’s about taking part and raising awareness and funds. We’ve raised 9,000 euros and hope to hit the target of 10,000 over the next two weeks.”

Donations can still be made and Sean is confident of hitting the 10,000 euros mark, all of which will go to Cancer Support Mallorca.

While Sean recovers from last week’s triathlon, Anita is this weekend walking half of Minorca with a group to also raise funds. In fact, the idea for the charity event was sparked by Anita. The motivation came when Anita was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Fortunately, it was detected early.

Thanks to the medical expertise and fantastic attention on the island, she was able to successfully “battle the demon”. The help and support she and the whole family received from Cancer Support Mallorca was nothing short of extraordinary, Sean says.

As part of her recovery, Anita formed the “Walk the GR221” group from Andratx to Pollensa, something she and a group of friends - plus Sean - have since completed four times. This year, the main sponsor was Anita’s company dysl3xia.com, which provides diagnosis and support strategies to individuals with dyslexia and/or literacy difficulties in Majorca.

“So it’s full on this year. Plus we had a kid’s race during last weekend’s main event and, like I said, some 55 local neighbours and friends helped in support boats, handing out water and all that. It has grown and more people want to get involved in any way they can. They don’t have to flog themselves in the triathlon and I am already organising next year’s event when I hope to see some companies getting involved and using it as a team-building exercise for staff, while helping such a great cause we are so lucky to have here on the island. We need ensure that it keeps going.

“Alongside the challenge of completing a gruelling course, another important goal of the event is to raise money for Cancer Support Mallorca and increase awareness of the importance of regular check-ups.

“There was a team of people from Cancer Support Mallorca at the finish bothering everyone about the need to be proactive with regard to cancer - both men and women. Regular and early checks for breast and prostate cancer are vital, and that is one of the messages we want to get across.

“One thing which is important to stress to people is that cancer takes no prisoners. Yes, if you are a smoker, for example, you have a greater chance of getting lung cancer. But on the flip side, cancer doesn’t really care about people’s lifestyles, it can strike anyone. So there’s no need to be worried about having a check and there is certainly no need to feel guilty or blame yourself should you be diagnosed with cancer. The easier it can be detected, the quicker it can be dealt with, and I can’t stress how fortunate we are in Mallorca to have the likes of Cancer Support Mallorca to help patients and their families,” Sean said.

And to top if all off, there was romance in the air. Local triathlete Dani Salas, who runs Mallorca Trail and is a well known athlete, proposed to his girlfriend at the finish line and, as he hoped, she accepted.

To donate, visit: https://sites.google.com/view/tramuntathlon/english/information