Beating bowel cancer together

“It kept me motivated to keep moving during chemotherapy.” Why I signed up to Step up for 30

Friday 19 March 2021

It's nearly time to Step up for 30! It's really simple, just get active every day in April and ask people to sponsor you. We spoke to four people who took part last year about why they signed up to the fundraiser.

Lisa Holyoake from Bristol covered 300 miles during the month to support her fiancé who was being treated for bowel cancer:

Just as the pandemic was taking hold, my fiancé Pat received a diagnosis of stage 2 bowel cancer. His surgery was two weeks into the first lockdown, and only available to him because of his health and fitness. The doctors knew he would be discharged from hospital quickly and therefore his risk of contracting COVID-19 during his stay was lowered.

When Step Up for 30 launched we saw it as an opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of overall good health, as well as raising money to support Bowel Cancer UK. The information on the website and the conversations in the forums became vital in the absence of the usual face-to-face appointments you'd receive outside of a pandemic.

As regular walkers and general outdoor enthusiasts, we set out with the intention of covering 300 miles and raising £300 between us over the course of the month. Halfway through the month, Pat needed a bit of a break (he has always been the sort to go 100mph, even in the immediate aftermath of a major surgery) so I upped my challenge to cover 300 miles by myself.

To achieve this I did a combination of walking and logging mileage on the exercise bike we bought in lockdown. It was a bit of a poor choice as I don't really like cycling, but getting active every day kick started a new lifestyle for me and I enlisted the support of a personal trainer. I am now fundraising for Bowel Cancer UK again and will be running a marathon for them this year.

By the end of the month we had raised £2,087, which was an overwhelming show of support from our friends and family. To anybody thinking about giving it a go: DO IT. The goal is simply to move, so mix it up until you find something you enjoy – even if that is just dancing around the kitchen – there is a lot to be said for a good playlist! If you can get outdoors then a gentle stroll around the block while listening to a podcast is a quality way to invest time in yourself and the benefits to your whole body and mind cannot be underestimated.

Rachel Reed, from Pontypridd, was diagnosed with stage 3 bowel cancer in November 2018. She shares her top tips for staying motivated during the month:

I signed up to the challenge to help my recovery from chemotherapy and to improve my mental health post cancer treatment. I went on daily walks combined with free workouts on Empowered Women Fitness on Instagram. Going out in nature for walks really helped my mental health and improved my energy levels.

My top tips for staying motivated are:

  • Go outside and find new walking routes in your area
  • Access free homework outs, lots on YouTube and Instagram. I used @empoweredwomenfitness and Body Coach TV, which has exercise classes for beginners to advanced levels
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Listening to music you love whilst exercising is a fabulous motivation tool

I wanted to do this challenge to help raise awareness of bowel cancer in young people, and to support Bowel Cancer UK's vital services and lifesaving research.

Sharon Kelly, from Surrey, was told she had bowel cancer in February 2019. Sharon took part in the challenge to help her stayed active during treatment:

I loved taking part in Step up for 30 last year. It kept me motivated to keep moving during chemotherapy, which I think was very important for my mental health as well as my physical health. I added daily photos and video clips to my personal social media accounts, which meant people donated very generously.

Anne-Marie O'Hagan, from Leeds, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2019:

I had come across details of the challenge while on the Bowel Cancer UK website. I was starting my chemotherapy tablets that day and had been looking for information. I wanted to support the charity's work as they have been a great resource for me.

My worry was that I may not reach the suggested £100 sponsorship and that I didn't know what chemotherapy side effects I would be getting by June (when the event was originally held). That evening I decided to go for it on the basis that £100 should be achievable and that I can be less active on any bad days than good ones. The generosity of friends and family was overwhelming and I raised over £900 within 24 hours.

Sign up to Step up for 30 today

Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.
Your support helps save lives. Donate now and help us ensure a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.

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