I have chosen to do my second year's walk in memory of Marty in London, along the River Thames - a place we visited often together. One of my most memorable trips was when I took Marty's to see one of the biggest exhibitions ever of the original props and costumes from the Star Wars films and taking him on the London Eye; which he also enjoyed the experience, even though he never left his seat because he had a fear of heights!
Earlier this year, myself and half a million people supported Lauren Backler by signing a petition to the then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Jeremy Hunt MP calling for a change in the bowel cancer screening age in England.
Well, we did it!
Following a comprehensive review of the evidence, the committee recommends that screening should be offered from aged 50 to 74 using the new and more accurate screening test, the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) at a sensitivity level of 20ug/g. FIT at this level has the potential to detect twice as many cancers and four times as many adenomas.
The sensitivity of FIT to detect blood in poo can be adjusted to be more or less accurate. Adjusting the sensitivity threshold determines the number of people who will be referred for colonoscopy. The lower the threshold, the more sensitive the test is to blood. However, this also means more people who have traces of blood in their poo but who don’t have bowel cancer will be referred for a colonoscopy.
FIT will be rolled out to the current eligible population from this autumn in England before the screening age is lowered. The test is already being used in Scotland from age 50. Wales has committed to roll-out FIT from January 2019 and Northern Ireland has yet to make a public commitment.
Bowel Cancer UK's CEO; Deborah Alsina has highlighted that this of course doesn't help people under 50 but the charities 'Never2Young' campaign aims to address this. I am keeping a close watch on any developments with this campaign and will update here with any developments whilst continuing to raise the awareness of bowel cancer in young people.
Following the merger of Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer in January 2018, today (Wednesday 1 August 2018) the charity revealed the new name, brand and video.
Last year, I planned the first charity walk in memory of Marty around one of his most favourite places in Cornwall - Crantock and the River Gannel. It was a gorgeous day and tickets sales for the walk raised a massive £661.91 for Bowel Cancer UK. I also fund raised £275 in sponsorship for Jason Bragg (a local lad, aged 26 who had been diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer). This year I'm joining the forces of the charities main London's Walk Together, on Saturday 15 September and would like to welcome anyone that would like to take part to join me and my family to remember Marty and meet some amazing people that are still fighting bowel cancer or remembering their loved ones.
About the London Walk Together
The walk along the Thames will present you with some of the most iconic sights with the London Park to Park walk. Taking place between Southwark and Embankment, you’ll get to enjoy the Tower of London, South Bank, St Paul's Cathedral and much more!
Join me and sign up here for the London walk
Other walks taking place in September
If you can't make this walk, maybe you'd like to walk one of the following:
Starting from Belvoir Park Forest, walk in a circular route through the diverse woodlands, along the tow path towards Shaw's Bridge taking in the beautiful surroundings and historic estate of Lagan Valley Regional Park.
Buy tickets for the Walk Together Belfast
Join us on this glorious five mile Cardiff Bay circular route, as we leave the restaurants and bars for the beautiful scenery of the Cardiff barrage. Passing the iconic landmarks of the Welsh Millennium Centre, The Pierhead Building, Norwegian Church and The Senedd, this flat route is perfect for the whole family to enjoy.
Buy tickets for the Walk Together Cardiff
See the heart of the city and journey through Edinburgh’s hidden asset, The Water of Leith. Starting from the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Modern Two and finishing at The Shore, Leith; join us to discover the wonderful gems in Scotland’s capital.
Buy tickets for the Walk Together Edinburgh
Earlier this month, I got creative in the kitchen and made some Bowel Cancer UK themed cakes to sell at work for Bowel Cancer Awareness month. £30 was raised for the charity, but most importantly helped to raise the awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer. Thanks to everyone that was brave enough to have one and to Amber who helped me make them.
Thankfully the sun came out and the walk in memory of Marty took place on Saturday 23 September, which raised a massive £661.91 for Bowel Cancer UK. My sponsorship for Jason Bragg (local lad, aged 26 who has been diagnosed with bowel cancer) has raised £275. Linda was a true star for this and without her help, I wouldn't have been able to raise as much as I did.
Thank you to everyone that donated money and came to do the walk with me. I know Marty was there with us in spirit. Also thanks to my friends Emma, Steve and Sienna who couldn't make it to Cornwall but did the London walk instead and raised £200 for Bowel Cancer UK.
Below are some photos from the walk and a couple of my favourite memories of Marty at Crantock.
Linda (Marty's mum) never seizes to amaze me. When she found out about the walk I was planning, she jumped straight in and wanted to help by putting up my posters and rally around to get some sponsorship to help and support Jason Bragg and his family, who are from St. Austell and at the age of 26 has been diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Jason works at my place of work and is an on-call firefighter. I've not met him myself but when I heard their news, it brought me to tears. Both me and Martyn were embraced by the support of friends and family when they rallied around to help raise some money to go towards Marty's surgery costs in Germany. I know how much that helped to ease the financial pressures and emotional roller-coaster we found ourselves on.
I don't know how much money yet has been raised from the sponsorship side of the walk for Jason, but I do know I have Linda to thank and all the people local to us for supporting the cause. Thank you to each and every one of you for your kindness and generosity.
If you would like to find out more about Jason, please visit the Just Giving web page that has been set up for him at: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/jason-bragg
There's less then a week to go before the 5 mile walk where proceeds from the registration fee to take part will be donated to my other chosen cause - Bowel Cancer UK.
Money raised for both causes will be updated on here shortly.
Yesterday I was interviewed by a lovely BBC Radio Cornwall reporter; Christine Stewart, about the charity walk in memory of Marty and in aid of Bowel Cancer UK. It couldn't have been a sunnier day for it and the Gannel was filled with dogs having fun in the water, kids crabbing on the bridge and people enjoying the beautiful scenery. The interview will be aired on BBC Cornwall Radio throughout Sunday 3 September and via their social media channels.
If you would like to join me on the walk, you can register via the Memories of Marty Just Giving web page or you are welcome to just turn up on the day at the cafe car park which is above the main National Trust Crantock beach parking.
I'd like to thank the lovely gentleman who is allowing us to use their cafe car park for the walk - it's really appreciated.
Registration will take place from 10.30am and we'll set off from 11am. You'll be provided with a map & directions and the route will be revealed on the day. It's 3 weeks today! Official poster is below:
Today Marty would have been 37 years young and there's not been a day that's passed when I haven't thought about him. Every now and then, I believe Marty gives me little signs when I need them the most. Yesterday I was late leaving work and on my way home, one of his favourite songs came on the radio - the JCB song, which is a rarity. Whenever I hear it, I can still see him and the smile it would bring to his face when it played and the funny singing voice he'd put on, and 'the looks' we'd give each other. I'll never forget why he loved it and how it reminded him of the time spent working with his dad; where I know it also gave him fond memories of his mum cooking bacon sarnies for them at the weekends or preparing their crib boxes for work. It even mentions transformers and all the childish things we both loved together. Little signs always appear when I need them the most and there's been many since he passed away. Whether these signs are coincidence or not, I'll always take comfort in believing it's him telling me to keep going, do what I'm doing and to never give up. He'll always be apart of me and I'll always remember and cherish the life we had together. I will always put sunflowers at his grave for as long as I live on his birthday (and yes, they have googly eyes on them), because of the memories we made when I would grow them from seed among other things in Summercourt. Maybe one day, a giant carrot might just sprout too - a memory for another time.
Blog - Never too Young
This blog is to carry on Marty's fighting spirit and help raise awareness of bowel cancer to others. It is also a place for you to share any of the things you have done or are doing in memory of him.