Why I'm running the London Marathon for Cancer Research UK

As the nights draw in, and the days get colder and wetter, it’s become a bit more difficult to get out and train for the London Marathon which takes place next April. But I have managed the occasional run at the weekend which has provided valuable and enjoyable opportunities to be out and about in Barnsley.

Recently I ran from Locke Park to the Huskar mining memorial at Silkstone Common. I started at Locke Park tower; built in 1877. I was told recently by Barnsley born Egyptologist, Dr Joann Fletcher that the architect R. Phene Spiers based the design on ancient monuments he had seen in Egypt. I believe we should ensure that the Tower is restored to its former glory. Running out of Barnsley I followed a muddy Trans-Pennine trail west, to Silkstone Common. The Huskar memorial commemorates the 26 children drowned underground in 1838. I’ve stood many times at this memorial and I am always moved by it.

Although my minimal training means that I may not yet be well prepared, my determination to do the marathon has been strengthened by a number of factors. Firstly, the excellent ‘Stand up to Cancer’ event which raised over £9m for Cancer Research UK – a fabulous effort from volunteers throughout the UK.

Secondly and most importantly, have been the conversations I have had with people from Barnsley. I am in regular contact with a number who have been affected – in different ways, by cancer. I am humbled by their courage, resolve and dignity and inspired to support them by talking about this issue in Parliament and by raising as much money as I can for Cancer Research UK.

I’m not just inspired by those directly affected, but also by those who provide professional support – those who work in our NHS and Cancer Research UK’s Cancer Awareness Nurses (pictured). They do a great job helping people to understand more about how to prevent cancer, and how to spot it early. Early diagnosis is something I am passionate about improving in Britain and I will continue to raise awareness about this both in Parliament and at home in Barnsley.

According to Cancer Research UK’s figures, Barnsley is performing better than average in terms of cancer waiting times. This is good news. However, cancer survival rates in Barnsley are lower than the English average, which in turn lag behind the best in Europe. This is very bad news. This may be because cancer is being diagnosed later in Barnsley than other places. This could happen for many reasons – people not attending screening, not checking for the signs and symptoms of cancer or simply putting off seeing their GP.

I encourage everyone to know the signs and symptoms of cancer, check themselves regularly, speak to their doctor if they have concerns and attend screening when invited. If anyone needs any further information, Cancer Research UK’s Spot Cancer Early website is very helpful. There is also a helpful cancer helpline, where information can be obtained from nurses on a free phone number: 0808 800 4040.

I know that money is very, very tight at the moment and that everyone is feeling the pinch. That is why even the smallest donation will really will make a difference to people’s lives. If you would like to help me raise funds for Cancer Research UK you can sponsor me via my justgiving website: www.justgiving.com/danjarvismp.