Cancer researcher Sally takes on The MoonWalk London for the 18th time

“Funding for research is always tight, so future life-saving breakthroughs depend on money raised through events like The MoonWalk London.”

Read why Sally keeps on Walking the Walk… year after year.

“On 14th May, I will be taking part in my 18th MoonWalk London! 

I have spent my entire career working in cancer research, and I take part to help all the charities who help to fund our work, including the MoonWalk organisers, Walk the Walk. I started at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in 1985 as a hands-on scientist, working on ground-breaking research. The highlight was being part of the team which discovered the BRCA2 gene in 1995. I was pregnant at the time, another team in the United States was working on similar research and I remember it being a race between me giving birth and us discovering the gene. People who carry the BRCA2 gene have a very high chance of getting breast, ovarian or prostate cancer. Our research has directly kept many people from affected families alive, as well as enabling preventative treatments and therapies to be developed.

My career has progressed to managing the labs and ensuring that the bench scientists have absolutely everything they need to do their research. That’s everything from a test tube, to a quarter of a million pound liquid-handling robot. I’m also responsible for training and the psychological wellbeing of everyone working in the labs, which can be a highly pressured and stressful environment. After nearly four decades, I’m now almost part of the infrastructure and enjoy my role as “Aunty Sally.”

As a key budget holder, I am acutely aware of the cost of our life-saving research. The most crucial asset we have to pay for, of course, is the brains of our dedicated scientists and technicians. In addition, leading edge research needs state of the art equipment, which tends to be very expensive. Funding for research is always tight and so future life-saving breakthroughs depend on money raised through events like The MoonWalk London.

Since my first MoonWalk, I have only missed taking part when I was having a baby and after an operation. I’ve done the Full Moon of 26.2 miles with work colleagues, with friends, with each of my children, and to be honest my preferred way, on my own. I absolutely love the challenge and having a personal goal to aim for each new year. I’ll keep going until my body fails me”. 

Sally Swift, Lab Manager for the Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre, at The Institute of Cancer Research, London

Don't forget, our LIVE and Virtual MoonWalks are open for entries! Sign up here! 


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