A dental hygienist has raised almost £20,000 for Mouth Cancer Action by walking 500 miles across the UK.
Christina Chatfield, owner of Dental Health Spa Brighton, finished her ‘500 Miles 4 Smiles’ walk on 19 June in Brighton, marking the end of an extraordinary month.
The walk started at Christina’s first practice in Kirriemuir, Scotland, and took in some of the east coast’s most attractive cities. More than 300 people joined the walk on various legs of the route in support of Mouth Cancer Action, a disease many experts believe will continue to increase.
Christina said: ‘I spoke to a number of people along the route and very few are aware of the link between mouth cancer and the human papillomavirus (HPV), one of the key factors behind the increase. It was a gruelling month for me, but making those people I met aware of mouth cancer was worth it.
‘I was joined by a mouth cancer sufferer and her children along the route, which was all the motivation I needed. The support along the route was incredible. I remember bumping into two ramblers, and they hadn’t heard of mouth cancer. They donated £10 of their weekly pension allowance to me, and it was moments like that which kept me going.
‘The money is going to an excellent cause. Mouth cancer rates are increasing, and hopefully the walk will get people thinking about the disease and what they can do to take themselves out of harm’s way.’
In addition to donations going to Mouth Cancer Action, a long-standing campaign run by the British Dental Health Foundation, fellow dental charity Heart Your Smile also received a share of the fundraising.
Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter OBE, congratulated Christina and thanked her for choosing Mouth Cancer Action.
Dr Carter said: “I would like to congratulate Christina on an outstanding achievement. Walking 500 miles in a month is a fabulous achievement, and on behalf of the British Dental Health Foundation I’d like to thank her for choosing our campaign.
“As Christina has alluded to, mouth cancer is a growing problem. With the help of this donation we can educate even more people about the risk factors and the signs and symptoms in the hope we can reverse these statistics.
“Tobacco use, drinking alcohol to excess, poor diet and HPV, often transmitted via oral sex, will put you at risk of developing the disease. That’s why it’s important to look out for ulcers that do not heal within three weeks, red and white patches and unusual lumps or swellings in the mouth. Early detection saves lives, so if you’re in any doubt, get it checked out.”