Beating bowel cancer together

Why a bowel cancer surgeon dyed his beard

We caught up with Vamsi Ramana Velchuru, a consultant bowel cancer surgeon from Norfolk, about why he dyed his beard last December for the charity.

Q. Why did you decide to take part in Decembeard?

I am a Consultant Bowel Cancer Surgeon and was also a cancer patient myself. In 2015 during the pinnacle of my career, my life turned upside down with the diagnosis of Lymphoma.

My young family and I faced the difficult unsurmountable agony. Our lives changed forever! When I recovered, my friend quipped ‘I went to hell and came back’. On a daily basis, I can relate to my patients when breaking bad news.

Thanks to my Haematologist, I survived because of evidence based treatment secondary to ground breaking research.

Unfortunately, bowel cancer can affect people of all ages. My youngest patient was less than 25 years old. Presenting early to the GP with symptoms might help in picking up early stage disease. Similarly taking part in NHS bowel cancer screening also can significantly improve survival rates.

I want to set an example for young cancer patients; having a positive outlook in life and with the support of a loving family and supportive friends they can regain normalcy in life.

Q. How did you take part in Decembeard?

I coloured my beard to raise awareness of the bowel cancer symptoms and to fundraise to invest in research!

Being a hospital professional, it was difficult to dye my beard whilst at work, nevertheless I did my bit for a charity close to my heart.

Interestingly, I found it difficult to break bad news with a funny looking beard, however both patients and relatives appreciated my effort and supported me in achieving my target.

Q. How did you fundraise? 

The hospital management team were very supportive of my plan. Our colorectal nursing team were instrumental in spreading the word. 

We posted on Facebook and also on the hospital Twitter feed. My friends and relatives across the globe managed to spread the word and were able to donate. I was delighted to raise over £4,000 for the charity.

Q. How did it make you feel raising such a fantastic amount?

I was very humbled by the fantastic response from patients, friends and family. I was thrilled in reaching the initial £1,000 target in less than 24 hours. A huge thank you to all the donors and well-wishers across the globe.

Q. Any tips for fundraising and having fun with the beard over the Christmas period? 

I found the best way to raise money is to involve lots of your friends and family. Be it the people you know at your regular pub or the work place. Hair dying is the easiest, with the variety of hair sprays available. If you have never grown a beard this is the best reason to start. Beard baubles during the festive period makes a good conversation starter.

Q. What would you say to anyone thinking about taking part in Decembeard this year?

Go for it. It is very easy! One of my former bosses who raised money for charity over the years by running marathons was jealous that I raised over £4,000 without a sweat!

Join us this December, get growing and raise as much as you can.


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