Raising awareness of bowel cancer is important to Woking woman Susan Meer. She was diagnosed with the disease in 2016 and her father died of it in 2010. 

She is now determined to make more people aware of bowel cancer and the importance of early diagnosis.

Susan is taking part in the challenge again this September with her dog Hazel. She aims to build on the awareness she raised last year.

Bowel Cancer UK’s Walk Together fundraising event has three different events; a five-mile in-person walk though London on Saturday, September 16, 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 funds raised will help stop people dying of bowel cancer by raising awareness of the disease, and funding vital services and lifesaving research.

Susan, 65, said: “I was so surprised to be diagnosed with bowel cancer as, at the time I was fit and healthy. 

“I believed I had piles, but was not in any pain or discomfort. 

“I had to undergo major surgery, followed by six months of chemotherapy. It was a difficult time, and I relied heavily on the support of family and friends.

“My father had died several years earlier, although he had been unwell and undiagnosed for some time.

“I think it is impossible to underestimate the importance of raising awareness of this illness. We have a stereotype that this kind of disease only affects overweight, inactive, older men but this certainly is not true. 

“Since my diagnosis I have met so many people who were young, fit and healthy, and were often misdiagnosed because of that. It seemed unbelievable they could have bowel cancer.

“I walked in Ockham, on a route that was almost entirely cross-country, with my son Sam and my dog Hazel. We had a very enjoyable day, talking together and enjoying the exercise. 

“The weather was good and we ended up walking 7k instead of 5k, ending up at the local pub, the Black Swan, for some well-earned refreshments! The dog loved it. 

“My son has been very supportive throughout, accompanying me on hospital trips and talking things through. 

“It is fantastic to now be able to take part in events like Bowel Cancer UK’s Walk Together, and to be able to help raise awareness of this disease.”

Luke Squires, the director of fundraising at Bowel Cancer UK, said: “We’re incredibly grateful to Susan for taking part in Walk Together, and really inspired by her for speaking so openly about her diagnosis and treatment.

“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 Susan.”