Barnsley Independent article: Less than two weeks to go

With less than two weeks remaining until the Virgin London Marathon, I’m preparing to to dig deep to ensure that I at least equal my time from last year. Joining me and the thousands of other runners on April 13th is my dad– a seasoned marathon runner to say the least, who at the spritely aged of 69 has clocked over 70,000 miles during his lifetime. I’m really looking forward to taking on this iconic race with him at my side and enjoying the breathtaking atmosphere that the London Marathon always delivers.

Yet again, a strict training regime has been somewhat difficult to stick to as a Member of Parliament. Whilst I have managed to fit in a few longer runs around the constituency at the weekends, I’m not as prepared as I would like to be. In spite of this, people still assume that because I was a Paratrooper I’ll be able to get round the 26.2 mile course without any problems. The truth is that my time in the Army will only get me so far, so I’m anticipating a fairly painful morning!

I am running the marathon in support of Cancer Research UK once again – a charity close to my heart. Cancer knows no boundaries. It can affect anyone, regardless of their wealth, age, gender or social standing; everyone knows someone who has had their lives touched by cancer.

According to data from Cancer Research UK, someone is diagnosed with a form of cancer every two minutes in the UK. Even more concerning is the fact that in the time it will take me to run the London Marathon, around twelve people will have been diagnosed with the disease in the Yorkshire and Humber region alone.

I’m determined to help raise awareness about early diagnosis of cancer. In Barnsley, survival rates have increased significantly since the mid-nineties and we now have some of the best bowel cancer screening attendance rates in the country.

But unfortunately, more than a quarter of cancer cases in our town are still being diagnosed through emergency routes rather than by a GP. I know that we could save thousands of lives each year if people were more aware of cancer symptoms but people put off screenings or going to see their doctor, which sometimes leads to a late diagnosis. Cancer Research UK’s Spot Cancer Early website is a really useful way of learning more about the signs and symptoms of cancer and I would encourage everyone to take a look:

I genuinely believe that we will beat cancer one day; we have already come so far. Thanks to the incredible work of Cancer Research UK and combined with the ongoing fantastic work that our NHS doctors and nurses carry out everyday in caring for cancer patients and supporting their families, we will defeat cancer.

If you would like to make a donation to Cancer Research UK by sponsoring, please use the following link, which will take you to my ‘JustGiving’ page:

All donations are hugely appreciated and will go a long way to beating cancer once and for all.

This article was first published in the Barnsley Independent on 2 April 2014.

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