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The sky's the limit for physiotherapy student


Physiotherapy student

Physiotherapy student Sally Gutteridge is celebrating the end of cancer treatment by completing the "World’s highest" tandem parachute jump over the famous Kennedy Space Centre, USA. 

Sally and her husband Jon will leap out of a plane at 18,000 feet, freefalling for 90 seconds at a speed of 120mph with a seven-minute parachute flight on August 14, 2024. 

“Why am I doing this insane challenge?” she said. “It’s to stick two fingers up to cancer and raise money for the hospital where I received such amazing care.”

Sally found a lump in her left breast in September 2021, age 47, just after starting the second year of her degree course at the University of Bradford. 

She was referred for tests including a mammogram and a biopsy, during which Sally poignantly remembers “the nurse holding my hand during the procedure.” A mastectomy followed, along with reconstructive surgery. 

“Due to Covid restrictions, I had to do it all on my own,” she said. “Jon literally dropped me at the door at 7am and left. It was hard on us both.”

With her husband Jon

Pictured: Sally with her husband, Jon. 

Dressed in a Wonder Woman t-shirt and socks, Sally began six rounds of chemotherapy in January 2022, again facing treatment alone due to ongoing Covid restrictions. 

On her JustGiving page, Sally wrote of the treatment: “This was brutal and took its toll on me. I could barely walk around the block when the effects were at their worst.”

Sally used a cooling scalp cap to retain most of her hair, pictured below, but she cut it short and donated her hair to The Little Princess Trust, which provides free wigs for children and young people going through cancer treatment. 

Sally wrote: “We also had many unplanned hospital trips when I got a blood clot in my arm after chemo, or my thumb decided to swell up. I can remember us coming out of the hospital at 2am one night after treatment.”

Following treatment, Sally returned to restart her second year of her BSc Physiotherapy in September 2022. She is now in her final year and will graduate in December, 2024. Sally was always determined to complete her degree and said it has only been possible because of the support she has received from the University. 

She said: “I cannot praise the physio team enough for keeping me going with my studies, in particular, assistant professors Jennifer Bromley, Tim Woodhead and Hilary Pape.”

wearing a cooling cap during cancer treatment

As she launches herself out of the plane above Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre - where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin began their journey to the moon in 1969 - Sally will be thinking of her mum, her nan, her auntie, her friend Jeremy and her dog, Barney. 

She is raising money for the breast cancer care wards at St James’s hospital, Leeds, where she was treated.

She wrote: “The nursing staff were so amazing during this period. They got me through it and were always so caring. They deserve a medal.”

Representing the University of Bradford's Physiotherapy team, Assistant professor Hilary Pape, said: “It's great to see Sally back up and running and we are glad she has been able to resume her studies with us. Sally is a positive role model for other students experiencing adversity with her resilient and positive attitude. Good Luck with the Skydive Sally!” 

Donate to Sally’s fundraising at JustGiving