Wellington GP to conquer 'Everest' ride, to help fund friend's cancer drugs

8 June 2022

Republished with permission from the Dominion Post/Stuff

On Thursday evening, when his lungs are burning and his thighs feel like giving way, Dr Peter Meffan will be more determined than ever.

The Wellington GP will be nearing the end of a mammoth 65 climbs up Hawkins Hill Rd to the Brooklyn Turbine, emulating the elevation of Mt Everest, fundraising for his friend and former colleague, Michael Funnell.

In May, Funnell was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He has had surgery and is now undergoing chemotherapy.

But to stand a chance of watching his six-month-old daughter Millie grow up, Funnell, who is also a doctor, must pay to use unfunded anti-cancer treatments.

“He’s in his mid-30s, he was diagnosed with brain cancer six months after his first daughter was born, everyone is completely devastated,” Meffan said of Funnell.

“My one talent is riding bikes up hills, and New Zealand’s always had this captivation with Everest, so the only point of this is to get some kind of public interest, and to help my friend out, really.”

Meffan said the medication Funnell needed was extremely expensive, and the family couldn’t afford the treatment without support.

In 10 days of fundraising, $113,000 had already been raised as of Monday night.

Meffan said the response had been fantastic, but he was hoping more help could be provided.

“It speaks volumes to how special Mike is,” Meffan said.

“He was my first doctor that was looking over me in my first job as a doctor,” he said. “When you first start as a doctor, you’re terrified. The stuff you see in the shows is not too far off what it’s really like.

“Mike was just incredibly supportive and a positive person to be around. He just gives himself to [the job].”

Come rain or shine, Meffan will be at the bottom of Hawkins Hill Rd at 4am on Thursday, ready to mount his mountain bike and begin his climb.

He said it would be more than 200km of riding, while rising 8849m, the height of Everest.

When his body begins to seize, as it surely will during the predicted 15-hour ride, Meffan said he would be thinking about Funnell.

“I don’t have any doubts I’ll go through the highs and lows, peaks and troughs all through this long event, but I’ll just be thinking about him the whole time,” he said.

Supporters are expected to ride portions of the journey with him, and Meffan said he’d welcome anyone who wished to ride with him, even for one climb.

Donations can be made online at GiveaLittle.co.nz.