A cancer patient from Stalybridge in East Manchester who had brain surgery has persuaded the neurosurgeon carrying out the procedure to do the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride with him this summer for Manchester’s cancer centre, The Christie.

Gareth Longden, age 42, had brain tumour surgery whilst awake (awake craniotomy) at Salford Royal by Matt Bailey, consultant neurosurgeon, age 43.

Matt, who lives in Knutsford, and is a keen cyclist said: “Sometimes it’s best to do brain surgery with patients awake so that we can map the brain’s function during the operation. Patients respond to questions and perform tasks during the operation so that we can protect important areas as we operate. In Gareth’s operation, we were testing his speech and got chatting about his love of cycling.
“I was amazed to hear that he’s done the Manchester to Blackpool ride 7 times to raise money for cancer patients! He went on to ask me if I would join him on the ride this year. I’m really inspired by his dedication and it’s great to support him raising money for such an important cause.”

Gareth had previously collapsed at work just before Christmas in 2021 and was diagnosed with a brain tumour. He had surgery to remove the tumour at Salford Royal in January 2022 and was then referred to The Christie for radiotherapy and concurrent chemotherapy during February and March.

He has also completed 2 out of 6 rounds of further chemotherapy at The Christie and will receive the results of his first scan this month to check progress.

“The staff in each department at The Christie have been incredible,” said Gareth. “Nothing is too much trouble for them and the care they give puts me at ease so I can concentrate on my treatment. I’m also very grateful to Matt and his team for the brain surgery he did at Salford Royal.”

Picture: Left to right - Matt Bailey and Gareth Longden

Gareth has been fundraising for The Christie since 2010 and this year will be his 7th time taking on the iconic Manchester to Blackpool bike ride. He has also ridden 3 times in the longer Manchester 100 event for The Christie, covering a distance of 100 miles each time.

“I enjoy cycling to keep fit but also it gives me chance to clear my head after work,” said Gareth. “I wanted to take part in this year's ride as I was diagnosed with a brain tumour recently and want to highlight what The Christie does to help patients like me.
“My dad and gran were both treated at The Christie over 10 years ago and my dad was back again for more treatment in 2016. Before my gran died in 2010, I promised that I would ride the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride each year if I was fit to do it. My cousin Graham was also treated at The Christie in 2020 so this shows how badly a family can be hit by cancer.”

Gareth is now urging other people to sign up to ride the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride or to raise funds in other ways. “The Christie can't do the work it does without these extra funds,” he said. “I never thought I was going to need treatment at The Christie, but you never know when cancer will strike.”

For more information about the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride and to sign up, please visit our Manchester to Blackpool bike ride event page.

The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families.

The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.