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Bhavin Shah dons running gear to support ‘Team George’ in cancer fight

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Sigma Pharmaceuticals has been helping Team George raise funds for charities dedicated to supporting children with cancer  

“Anything is possible with focused strength, resilience and determination” said Bhavin Shah, Financial Director at Sigma Pharmaceuticals plc, after completing the annual London Marathon.

Shah donned his running gear and completed the 26.2 mile route in a commendable time of 5 hours and 33 minutes, all in support of ‘Team George‘, a cause initiated by his close friend, Jonathan Bracey, who is the EVP of corporate development at Tanner Pharma Group.

Bracey started the crowdfunding initiative last year after his 2-year-old son George was diagnosed with a rare cancer (rhabdomyosarcoma) on his liver/bile duct.

Sigma Pharmaceuticals directors and staff have played a vital part in helping raise over £52,000 over the last 6 months for ‘Team George’, which included the London Marathon Charity run on Sunday 21 April 2024. The funds will be donated to four charities that have been instrumental in George’s path to overcoming cancer – Rays of Sunshine ward at Kings College Hospital Charity, St Mary’s Hospital, Alice’s Arc and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

For over three months, Shah had been training himself physically and mentally for the marathon run to support his friend’s initiative. He joined Bracey in the marathon, along with more than 50,000 other competitors.

“We were just blown away by the sheer kindness and generosity of the supporters for George,” Shah said while sharing his experience from the marathon run.

“It feels good to be able to make such a significant contribution to the funds raised for Team George and the four associated charities.”

When asked about the anticipated impact of this donation, he commented: “Hopefully, these funds will enable other children to recover from cancer and surgery in the same way George has done,” he added.

What made the day particularly memorable for him was the “superb atmosphere in London and the amazing camaraderie between participants and spectators.”

Underscoring Sigma’s commitment to corporate social responsibility, he said: “It is a way for Sigma to give back to the community and support the advancement of healthcare.”

“Sigma supports charities every year and we hope to get our staff involved in further charitable activities – giving time to charity as well as fundraising via events.”

Shah’s message for others considering getting involved in similar charitable endeavours or marathons in the future – “Go for it because anything is possible in terms of raising funds for worthwhile causes. Hard work always pays off.”

Bhavin Shah taking part in the London Marathon Charity run

In commendation of Bhavin Shah’s charity run, Sigma’s co-founder Dr Bharat Shah CBE stated: “On a personal level I am so proud of my nephew who took this worthy cause under his wing and publicised it with such efficiency that the potential for this charitable project has far exceeded all our imagination.”

Bracey expressed deep gratitude to Shah and Sigma Pharmaceuticals for their unwavering support of Team George.

He said: “Sigma is all about family. And I feel lucky to be part of that extended family – having known Sigma now for 20+ years!  It’s when times are tough that family looks after you and Sigma could not have done more for our family. We are extremely grateful.”

‘George is still running his marathon’

Bracey credited Shah for giving him the running bug back in September. They have now completed three charity races together for Team George, with the London Marathon being the biggest by far.

“We may have finished our ‘marathon’ but George is still running his. Sadly, there is no predetermined finish line for him, which is mentally a tough thing to come to terms with. But George is a tough little fella and God willing, and with some amazing medical teams – and of course Team George behind him, together we will get him to a place where he can enjoy a normal and healthy life again.”

Sharing the purpose of the charity runs, Bracey stated: “We hope to be able to help other patients and families who are on a similar journey by providing funds to allow them to buy things that make going through such a journey easier and slightly better – from vein finders to PS5 consoles!”

Bracey has a message for those who may be going through similar experiences or looking to support similar causes – “Be positive, realistic and prepare to work hard to get the best outcome.”

“Navigating rare diseases is difficult (even when you work in rare diseases as I do at Tanner). But there are experts out there. We pulled together a team that gave George groundbreaking treatment – he was the first child in the U.K. to have this procedure done on his liver/bile duct (IRE/nano knife plus resection).

“It’s a real rollercoaster of a journey – two steps forward and one step back – and mentally and physically demanding.”

Since his diagnosis on 3 August 2023, George has been on a really tough journey which has included nine rounds of chemo and a ground-breaking IRE procedure, plus resection to remove the tumour from his liver/bile duct.

Despite all these challenges, George remains in tremendously high spirits. “He is one tough cookie,” said Bracey, updating that his son is in good health and doing well.

 

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