Dedicated and brave staff member Juli Davis took part in the Vikingarännet, a 40-kilometre ice race in Stockholm, Sweden this February to raise funds for the Oral and Maxillofacial department at King’s, where she works as a Medical Secretary.
She was inspired to take on the challenge not only by seeing the treatment patients receive every day, but also from her own lifesaving surgery she underwent at the hospital five years ago.
After preparing and training for the course in the UK, Juli travelled to Stockholm and entered the race, being the only British woman to take part.
In difficult conditions, she finished the race in 5 hours 19 minutes – even though at 36km she ‘hit the wall’ and suffered painful leg cramps that almost caused her to withdraw.
“It was the best experience of my life and I feel so accomplished and enjoyed every painful minute of it. Would I do it again? Yes but with proper cross country skates and not hockey ones.
I may not have placed anywhere, but for me I placed for myself by finishing the race – that was all that I wanted to do. I have fulfilled a lifelong dream.”
You can help Juli reach her target of £2,000 by donating here.
Juli suffered complications following keyhole abdominal surgery in 2011, where it was discovered she had masses of adhesions around her bowel. Upon being rushed to A&E at King’s, Juli had the scary experience of being told she had a bowel perforation.
‘I knew something was very wrong when I was wheeled into the resuscitation area immediately,’ says Juli. ‘All I can remember is my surgeon, Mr Schulte, telling me I required urgent surgery. My daughter was beside herself, frantically calling family to get them to come in as they weren’t sure I was going to pull through.’
Juli came round from the surgery three days later and spent a week in Critical Care, before being transferred to Lister Ward for recovery. She has since had three further operations and thankfully, after many months, Juli made a full recovery.
‘I have been adhesion pain free for 18 months,’ says Juli. ‘Since my life was saved I’ve wanted to give something back to King’s.
‘At work I see the amazing work and life-changing surgery performed in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery for patients who have suffered terrible head and facial injuries. I feel that fundraising so that further research can continue in this field will be the best way I can contribute.’
Making a lifelong dream a reality
Juli has been ice skating for most of her life. She played ice hockey for 16 years until her surgery unfortunately put an end to her playing competitively, but she hasn’t let it stop her skating for fun.
Before the event, she spoke of the challenge ahead;
‘Although Mr Schulte told me that I could not play hockey ever again, I was determined to get back on the ice and went for a cheeky skate two months post-op, just for 15 minutes to slowly skate round.
‘For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to be able to skate on a large natural frozen surface. The best place to do this is in the Scandinavian region and I heard about this race – the Vikingarännet – through friends.
It takes place on the old frozen Viking waterways in Sweden. Currently I’m in training whilst working at an outdoor ice rink, where I’m skating for anything from two to five hours per day to build up stamina and strength. I hope to complete the race in about three hours.’
Juli aims to raise £2,000 towards supporting research to help advance treatment for patients suffering from head, neck, facial and jaw conditions.
‘I’ve seen the incredible work these surgeons perform and the fantastic outcomes that patients have as a result,’ says Juli. ‘I’m keen to fund ongoing research that will help make outcomes even better for these patients.’
There are many ways you can fundraise to support King’s – and they’re not all quite so chilly! Find out more.