Sheli Dobbie, Practice Manager at Vets for Pets Bramley, is preparing to take on the Women V Cancer Cycle in India later this year, in memory of her colleague, Laura Turnbull.
The 40-year-old will be cycling 360km across Rajasthan in November to raise funds for Breast Cancer Now, Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust and Ovarian Cancer Action.
Sheli, who has worked at the practice for the last nine years, met Laura in 2014 when she joined the team to train as a veterinary nurse. The pair quickly became close friends and would spend lunches together sharing stories and encouraging one another to take on their next big challenge.
Laura told Sheli her dream was to move to India to help veterinary teams care for street dogs, however, in 2015, Laura was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent treatment, including a mastectomy and reconstruction.
After her treatment, Laura left to pursue her dream as a veterinary nurse in India, living there for 18 months before discovering that she had incurable secondary breast cancer. Laura returned home to be with her family and friends and to complete her bucket list, and she sadly passed away earlier this year.
Now, Sheli has committed to taking on a new challenge in Laura’s memory to raise vital funds and help other people facing breast, cervical and ovarian cancers.
Sheli said: “I’m no cyclist, but I feel that this challenge was just meant for me. I lost another close friend, Caroline, to cervical cancer in 2020 at just 39 years old, so the charities I’m supporting are all so close to my heart.
“Laura had always wanted me to visit her in India, so the race being there, in the country she fell in love with, just makes it feel that much more special. I am nervous, of course, but I’m also excited for the challenge and really looking forward to discovering the place that meant so much to Laura.”
Sheli has pledged to raise a minimum of £3,000 for the charities and has planned various fundraising activities to help her reach the goal, including a music-based fundraising night and a sponsored 12-hour cycle at the practice.
Ahead of the challenge in November, she has already started training, explaining: “I’ve brought my spin bike into the practice and have been cycling for at least 30 minutes every other day to start building up my time in the saddle and get some miles under my belt.”
No stranger to physical challenges, Sheli has taken part in several half marathons, including completing the Great North Run with Laura in 2017 and the Manchester Marathon in 2019. Along with the team at Bramley Vets for Pets, Sheli also held a 'Ladies Night' in 2019 for the Leeds-based charity, Breast Cancer Action, raising more than £4,800.
Sheli said the most important thing for her now is raising awareness: “Having lost two special friends in the space of three years to cancer, I know first-hand that it doesn’t discriminate. I just want to raise as much awareness as possible and would encourage everyone to please check your breasts and don’t delay your cervical smear test – it really can save your life.”
To follow Sheli’s journey and help her to reach her fundraising goal, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sheli-d-cycleindia