Written by Vicki Payne
Over the last few years I’ve unfortunately become all too familiar with bowel cancer due to three close family members being diagnosed - my uncle in law, my dad and my grandad.
My dad tragically passed away on 6 March 2018 after battling with stage 4 bowel cancer. He was a very proud and hardworking man and thanks to some fantastic palliative care he was allowed to maintain his dignity right to the very end. His funeral was on his 10 year wedding anniversary with my mum after 13 short but wonderful years together. He was only 60 when he passed away and despite being slightly overweight and drinking a lot in his youth it all seemed very out of the blue. By the time he was diagnosed it had already spread.
It made me realise how little I, or anyone around me, knew about bowel cancer and how unwilling people were to talk about it. When I saw April was Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, it all seemed like fate. I had spent the last 6 months reflecting on the unfairness of life and had the stark reminder that miracles don’t just happen, we must create them ourselves. So throughout April that is just what I intended to do. I started with a fundraising idea I could do at home (whilst hopefully getting people to slightly reconsider their diets) and I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for over the coming months.
I’m a big meat eater. I’m a sucker for a bacon sarnie, love a good lamb dinner and have even been known to steal pork pies from other peoples’ plates! However for April, to raise awareness and money for Bowel Cancer UK and Beating Bowel Cancer I went full vegetarian. That’s right, no more bacon or sneaky pork pies, no cooking roast potatoes in beef fat!
As part of this, I kept a blog detailing everything that I ate over the month. Writing a blog every day has definitely been the hardest bit (and taking photos of my food every day!) however eating veggie has been surprisingly enjoyable.
Whilst giving up meat might seem trivial and won’t bring back my loved ones, I hope it might encourage someone to go for tests or screening if they notice a problem, it might help someone to reconsider the impacts of their unhealthy diet or raise money for bowel cancer treatment. For a disease that is treatable and curable, it’s depressing how many people die from it. Let’s create a world where this doesn’t happen.
So far I’ve raised over £575. I’m really chuffed with how much I’ve raised. I didn’t expect that much! Everyone has been so generous. I’m planning more events with a sunflower growing competition at the school I work at, a bake sale and taking part in the Great North Run.