How walking with friends helped me come to terms with my diagnosis
Monday 17 May 2021
Paul Chambers was 46 when he was diagnosed with bowel cancer in May 2019. He shares with us why he's so passionate about supporting our Walk Together fundraiser.
I was 46 when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer during a colonoscopy in May 2019, and a follow-up CT scan revealed I had a stage 4 diagnosis in early June of that year.
I had felt some fatigue for a short number of months prior to this, but I had thought it was due to having a busy work life as a deputy head teacher in a secondary school, as well as a busy family and social life. I felt some bloating in my stomach, persistent pain in my side and I was visiting the loo more often. My GP was very supportive and helpful, although I wish I had seen him sooner.
During this time I was still exercising quite a lot, including cycling over very steep mountains in the Lake District. I thought the pain in my side was from a strained stomach muscle and I hadn't thought for a second that it could have been my liver complaining due to cancer.
And here I am two years later. Unfortunately, I won't be able to undergo surgery due to the complexity of my liver lesions and spread to my lungs. I'm on my third line of chemotherapy and have been medically retired. That still feels strange, but I'm focussing on my wife, three wonderful children and training our new puppy. With luck, we'll be able to travel again after the restrictions are lifted and it's safe to do so.
I've been a keen hiker and traveller all my life, ranging from my beloved Scottish mountains to the New Zealand Alps, the Japanese Alps, the Rocky Mountains, the Andes, the Himalayas and the European Alps. Walking with friends has been a monumentally positive factor in coming to terms with my diagnosis and life expectancy. Making time to connect with friends from my past as well as my present has been a real bonus and the Bowel Cancer UK Walk Together has been an ideal way to do this.
We took part in Walk Together in 2019 and it was a great day out for three generations of my family. It was so valuable to meet other members of the bowel cancer community and to find out about the support that is out there.
Last year, I did something slightly different, setting myself the target of hiking 50 miles throughout September. I doubled my target and am hugely grateful for everyone who joined me and contributed to my fundraising. It's so important to raise funds for Bowel Cancer UK as well as being a very enjoyable event. I'd encourage everyone who is able to take part. Good luck and best wishes!
Paul walked in 2019 and 2020, raising over £8,500 to date.
Sadly Paul died in September 2021.
Walk Together this June
We're asking you to join us and walk five miles in your own time, at your own pace, in your local area, with your household or within small socially distanced groups on Saturday 12 June. By walking on this date we will be together, across the country, completing our five miles on the same day.
However, if you can't make this date, we'd love you to walk anytime throughout June to suit you.