After losing her husband Andrew to suicide in 2017, Eva Tu is cycling 100 miles on RU OK? Day to fundraise for a pharmacy scholarship in his name – and raise awareness of mental health
Earlier this year, the AJP reported on the efforts of Eva Tu, the University of Sydney, and friends and family of the couple to raise $135,000 to establish the Andrew Tu Scholarship in Pharmacy.
Andrew lost his life in April 2017, and when remembering him at a gathering on what would have been his 34th birthday, Eva and Andrew’s friends began to discuss creating a legacy in his memory.
They approached the University – Andrew and Eva are both alumni of the Pharmacy Faculty – and to date more than $100,000 has been raised.
Now, for RU OK? Day on Thursday, September 10, Eva is taking on a new challenge.
“In the middle of 2018, a year after Andrew passed away, I felt an overwhelming amount of fatigue and grief whilst managing everyday life,” Eva told the AJP.
“I decided to take a break from work, and took myself overseas travelling for several months before returning to try and refocus on my career.
“While I was away, I was involved in an accident which resulted in a compound fracture of my left ankle, ending my travel plans to come home for more surgery,” she says.
“The surgeons told me that I wouldn’t be about to run anymore due to the extent of the injury. Running was a passion of mine, and it really helped me to cope with Andrew’s death.
“Apart from losing Andrew, I think during those months I really did not feel okay.
“After a long recovery process, I picked up cycling as my Option B, and started commuting and short rides on the weekend, and I feel thankful to have been able to come a long way since.”
To commemorate RU OK? Day – which encourages Australians to make a meaningful connection with those around them, particularly those who may be struggling – Eva decided to cycle her first 100 miles (160km).
To date, her longest ride has been 60 miles (100km) – and fellow cyclists have asked her when she plans to graduate to 100 miles.
Eva says she will “dig deep” on Thursday to make the milestone ride, in memory of Andrew, to raise awareness of mental health and to raise funds for the scholarship.
“I have been campaigning for three weeks with $5,500 raised so far which takes us closer to our goal of $135,000,” she says.
“The thing I love about exercising is the way it brings people together and improves our mental wellbeing.
“On the day, I won’t be alone, I have a team of support riders who will be crewing me through the day just to make sure I’ll be okay.
“Our route will be in Sydney starting in the Inner West, through the Sydney CBD and down towards La Perouse finishing in Centennial Park.”
The endowed scholarship of $6,000 per year – which is intended to further research in mental health – will be awarded in perpetuity if $135,000 can be raised. Otherwise, it will be awarded for as long as the funds raised support it.
All donations to Eva’s ride will go towards the scholarship.
RU OK? Day itself is Thursday, September 10 2020, and this year is focusing on how “There’s more to say after RU OK?”
Eva says the message about connecting with loved ones is more important than ever given the events of 2020.
“It has certainly been a tough year for many people, including our healthcare professionals on the frontline, so it’s a timely reminder for us all to check in with family, friends and colleagues,” she says.
“On this day we’re calling on everyone to learn what to say after R U OK?.
“We want everyone in our community to feel they can talk about life’s ups and downs and access support if they need it.”
Make a donation to the Andrew Tu Scholarship in Pharmacy here.
Learn what to say after R U OK? or donate to the campaign at www.ruok.org.au.
Pharmacists can contact the Pharmacists Support Service on 1300 244 910 for peer support related to the demands of being a pharmacist in Australia.
Lifeline is available on 13 11 14.
Members can call PDL on 1300 854 838 for support from a Professional Officer.