Friday, 18 August 2017

Meeting Lauren Backler for bowel cancer fundraising book

Lauren Backler has turned the devastation of losing her Mum to bowel cancer in 2015, into an amazing campaign to get the bowel cancer screening age in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reduced form 60 to 50. In Scotland the screening age is already at 50. She very kindly agreed to meet me in London this week to take part in the new book. In this photo she happily posed with the bowel cancer tie to help raise awareness, and I had a specific idea in mind of the photo I wanted to take for the book with Lauren, as we were able to use Buckingham Palace as the backdrop. It's one of those photos that I can't wait for everyone to see, as it came out just as I hoped it would.

The chapter will go into detail about Lauren's story, and how her campaign and petition have taken off in such a massive way, leading her to be featured across the national media, and even speaking at Westminster. If the screening age was to be reduced from 60 to 50, over 4,000 people could have their bowel cancer detected at a much earlier stage, giving them a much greater chance of survival. Lauren's mother would have been screened a number of times if this had been the case, and most likely still be here today. Unfortunately by the time she was diagnosed her condition was terminal, and she lived for just a few months. Lauren's online petition has, to date, got a staggering 279,803 signatures. It's ever so easy to do, and takes just a minute or two of your time, so please support the petition here.

I've met so many amazing people on my book writing adventures, and Lauren was another one of those, a true inspiration. She is a very kind, giving and generous person, but also with a steely determination to achieve a successful outcome to her campaign. Although the reasons why I come into contact with so many people for the book are based on a common loss and sadness due to bowel cancer, the wonderful thing is how new friendships are being made with some very special people.

It's approaching a year since my Mum lost her battle with with bowel cancer, after a 4 year brave and dignified battle. All proceeds raised from sales of this book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. 41,000 people are diagnosed each year with 16,000 losing their lives to it every year, making it the second highest cancer killer in the UK. If detected early is is very treatable in over 90% of cases, so raising awareness about it is so very important...

Please don't forget to sign Lauren's petiton!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Deborah James 1979 - 2017

Today is the funeral of Deborah James, who passed away on July 27th aged just 37. My thoughts today are very much with her family and friends. I know an awful lot of effort has been put into making today a very special send off, and celebration of her life.

I came into contact with Debs on social media in 2015 around the time that I published my last book, Lives & Times, which she kindly bought, and we stayed in regular contact. She was one of the first people to agree to be in this new fundraising book I am putting together for the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. We met at the beginning of May at the Sixfields Leisure Park in Northampton. At that time Debs was still very positive, and determined to do everything she could to stay healthy, and live as long as possible in spite of an awful prognosis. She told me that when she was younger, she said she would live to be 100, and with her lovely infectious laugh she then said that it was still possible. In fact Deb's laugh was constant throughout, even during the bits where we chatted about the most difficult subjects relating to her illness. Although I only got to meet her once, that experience definitely left a mark on me, and I'm sorry that I didn't get the opportunity to know her a little better and see her again. She wrote a wonderful blog, My Joyful Gut!, which is well worth a read. She had set up her own business, which was raising awareness about cancer at the workplace, supporting businesses, cancer patients and their families affected by cancer. She was a quite special person, who will be missed by so many people.

Debs and I agreed that the chapter on her in the book should be written as of that moment in time of our meeting. I wanted her to see the chapter as it would appear in the finished book. I wrote it up and sent it to Debs, who thankfully was very pleased with it. I will not change it, apart from a few lines of explanation that I've added to the start of it. 

Bowel cancer is the most terrible disease. The second highest cancer killer in the UK, claiming 16,000 lives each year, and yet if detected early it can be successfully treated in over 90% of cases. So much more needs to be done in raising awareness about bowel cancer to reduce the numbers losing their lives, and the sadness and devastation caused to the families left behind. My Mum lost her 4 year battle with bowel cancer in August 2016, and all proceeds from sales on the new book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Meeting Billy Ocean in Oxford

I met up with Billy Ocean at Oxford on his recent UK tour. He gave me a few minutes after the show to have a chat and photograph him for the new book. He was a lovely man, interested in what I was doing, and revealed a very interesting first song.

The concert was great, if not my usual kind of stuff 😆 However, to see him sing his classic hit 'Red Light Spells Danger' was worth the ticket price alone. I must have been the only person there wearing an Alarm t-shirt and a Frank Turner hoodie!

My Mum lost her four and half year battle with bowel cancer almost a year ago. All proceeds raised from sales of the forthcoming book will be donated to the Beating Bowel Cancer charity. As well as raising funds the book will hopefully help to raise awareness about this awful disease. Please check out my website for all the items that I am selling to raise funds for the charity.