August 21, 2023
A man from Acton who recovered from stage 2 bowel cancer is taking part in a sponsored walk to raise funds and awareness of the disease.
Gary Azzaro received his diagnosis two years ago but believes that, because it was caught early, his chances of survival were greatly increased.
He took on the five-mile Walk Together sponsored walk last year and raised over £2,600 for Bowel Cancer UK. He hopes by sharing his story other people will take on the challenge.
He is taking on the walk again this year as part of his commitment to raise awareness. He has also recently appeared on the podcast ‘Talking Codswallop’ to speak about his cancer experience and to encourage people to go to their GP if things don’t feel right.
Garry Azzaro said, “In June 2021, I was diagnosed with stage 2 bowel cancer. Thankfully, it was caught in time, and after surgery and some preventative chemotherapy I am now clear.
“During my treatment, my wife consulted the Bowel Cancer UK forums regularly for help and advice, which proved insightful as well as invaluable. After a very stressful 12 months, the Walk Together campaign felt like a chance to say ‘thank you’ to the charity and give something back.
“My wife and I both signed up, and after mentioning it one evening to our friend, Roxy, we were surprised and delighted to find out afterwards that she had signed up too and was going to join us. We planned a five-mile route taking us from Clapham to Hammersmith, picking two spots that were well-known to us as our start and finish lines. Bowel Cancer UK provided us with a QR code to display, so that any passers-by could scan it and be taken directly to the JustGiving page.
“We met people along the walk who stopped to tell us their stories and experiences with bowel cancer, from their own scares and personal losses. One incredible man called us over to thank us and told us how he was a survivor of the disease. He wept as he told us his story and thanked us for raising awareness as even his GP initially put his symptoms down to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which just goes to show how important the Walk Together challenge is.
”After the emotional rollercoaster of going through surgery and treatment, doing the Walk Together challenge in 2022 was a great chance to give something back and to feel like I truly was on the road to recovery. I'm very excited to be taking part again this year, with a lot more energy and the knowledge that raising awareness could help so many others and also raise funds for vital research and treatment.”
Gary (centre) outside Charing Cross hospital
Bowel Cancer UK’s Walk Together fundraising event takes place this September. There are three different events to choose from; a five-mile in-person walk though London on Saturday 16 September, a ‘virtual’ five-mile walk that can be completed in the participants local area on any day of their choosing in September, or a brand-new Walkies Together dog-walking challenge.
Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK, making it the fourth most common cancer. The charity says that the funds raised will help stop people dying of bowel cancer by raising awareness of the disease, and funding vital services and lifesaving research.
Luke Squires, Director of Fundraising at Bowel Cancer UK, says, "We’re incredibly grateful to Garry for taking part in Walk Together, and really inspired by him for speaking so openly about his diagnosis and treatment. Every 15 minutes someone is diagnosed with bowel cancer in the UK which means that in the time it takes to walk five miles, seven people will hear the words: ‘you have bowel cancer.’ We're determined to save lives and improve the quality of life of everyone affected by the disease but we're entirely reliant on the generous support of fundraisers like Garry. This September put your best foot forward and help us create a future where nobody dies of bowel cancer.”
To sign up for a Walk Together event click here.
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