How did you become a volunteer fundraiser for Bowel Research UK?
My grandad Howard and my aunty Lisa both became ill with bowel cancer within a year or so of each other and very sadly both have since passed away. My family was naturally very upset to lose two dearly loved members to the same disease and this left a massive impact on us.
However, although our experience was very upsetting, I became determined to do something positive to help others in the hope they could have a much better of chance of recognising and understanding their bowel cancer symptoms, because we all know that the earlier bowel cancer is detected, the prospects of a successful treatment and cure are so much higher.
Equally importantly, I felt no one should be embarrassed when discussing their symptoms and should be able to feel they can go to their doctor as soon as they experience them and not wait and see if they get any worse.
I began by researching charities working in the field of bowel cancer and bowel disease I would be happy to support through fundraising. After some Googling I found Bowel Research UK.
Spending time on the charity’s website I felt immediately it was very good fit for my personal fundraising efforts, with its focus on patients and their stories, and of course its research which is so important in finding future cures and treatments for all bowel diseases.
The icing on the cake was when Bowel Research UK was able to offer me a place to run in this year’s London Marathon and I could fundraise on its behalf.
Have you always been a runner and what are training tips?
No, far from it. I’d never really done much running in the past so this was completely new and a marathon for a new runner was a massive challenge.
I started my training in January but unfortunately as I upped my weekly training miles I suffered from shin splints which really held me back.
This problem led to my first big training tip: compression socks. I bought a £10 pair of these online and they completely resolved the shin splints problem. Fantastic!
My other main training tip is to cover the full race distance beforehand in training. When I was running the marathon and crossing Tower Bridge and I realised I was only half way round the course it was a bit of a shock knowing how much further I had to go.
In training, I think my longest run was 15 miles, which meant on the day I wasn’t really as mentally and physically prepared as I might have been.
Fortunately, members of my family were there to cheer me on, and I had great support on the day from staff members at Bowel Research UK, who were very well organised and encouraging. While running that distance wasn’t easy I managed to tough it out and complete the course in under six hours, which was great but a bit longer than my hoped-for time of around five hours.
How much did you raise for Bowel Research UK by running the London Marathon?
I managed to raise around £2,600 which was more than I expected. But just as pleasing, I’ve been able to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms by talking about it among my friends and colleagues.
A big part of my personal mission is ensuring younger people around my age [Vicky is 24] understand that they can also suffer from bowel cancer and that they mustn’t assume it only affects older people. I hope in future people will feel confident about talking about any potential symptoms with their GPs as soon as they present.
Are you planning more runs or other sporting events for the charity?
Yes, I’ve already signed up for a half marathon on behalf of Bowel Research UK in the spring of 2023, and I’m researching some fundraising bike rides. So who knows? I might just do one of these as well next year!