Ten years ago, teenager Tanyel Uzun was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer, Ewing’s sarcoma. The devastating news came just six days after Tanyel had turned 18. Intensive treatment seemed to work and Tanyel went into remission, but six months later she relapsed and sadly passed away in January 2016 aged 20.
Even when she was fighting cancer herself, Tanyel was aware of the challenges others were facing and wanted to help. “She gave advice to help newly diagnosed patients on the teenage cancer unit at the Royal Marsden Hospital and offered support and guidance on how she coped with normal things outside of her treatment,” writes the charity website set up in her name.
Of Turkish Cypriot heritage, Tanyel spent many holidays in North Cyprus and it was here she returned when she was in remission. During a six week summer holiday, Tanyel saw first-hand how local children were “suffering from cancer” because they did not have the facilities and support that she had access to in the UK.
It was these experiences that drove her to want to help other young people battling cancer, a cause her parents, Gulay and Ceyhun Uzun, have taken up in the wake of their amazing daughter’s death.
Tanyel’s Smile was set up as a UK charity in 2017 in memory of Tanyel “to help children up to the age of 24 and their families as they struggle with the reality of cancer.” The charity has raised thousands of pounds to help children with cancer by undertaking a .
On Saturday, 23 September, Ceyhun ‘Jay’ Uzun, a Metropolitan Police Officer and his friend and Met colleague Ryan McKinlay embarked on a huge fundraising challenge, cycling from London to Cyprus. The trip across Europe is expected to take 20 days and will cover some 2,500 miles (just over 4,000 kilometres) and by the end the pair hope to have raised at least £10,000 for Tanyel’s Smile.
Uzun and McKinlay started their journey outside New Scotland Yard in Central London early on Saturday morning, before cycling to Eltham Cemetery, in southeast London, to visit Tanyel’s grave. There they were met by the Mayor of Bexley, Cllr Ahmet Dourmoush, and dozens of other well-wishers, who laid flowers at Tanyel’s grave and said prayers for her and also the safe passage of the two cyclists.
Posting photos from the poignant gathering at the cemetery, the Mayor of Bexley urged everyone who can to donate to the fundraiser:
“Today, we bid farewell to Cey and Ryan, who will be cycling 2500 miles to Cyprus. It is to raise much needed funds for their charity called Tanyels Smile, a children’s cancer charity. Please make a donation if you can via the go fund me page. It will take them a minimum of 20 days to get to their destination. We wish them well.”
To date, the fundraiser reached 41% of its £10,000 target, with £4,177 donated by 92 supporters. Others who wish to donate can do so via this link.
People can follow the progress of dad Ceyhan and his friend Ryan via Tanyel’s Smile. The charity is on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter), or click here to visit the Tanyel’s Smile website.