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Stowmarket resident Gary Welsh, 35, praises £50k fundraising efforts from friends and family

A 35-year-old man with stage four bowel cancer has expressed thanks for £50,000 worth of donations which he believes could grant him extra time to live.

Gary Welsh, of Stowmarket, launched a GoFundMe page in March after being diagnosed with incurable stage four bowel cancer at the age of 34.

Despite the shock diagnosis, Gary along with his wife Lizzy and mum Lisbeth, did not give up hope and strived to raise as much as money as possible through fundraising efforts.

Gary Welsh has reached his £50,000 fundraising goal. Picture: Mark Westley
Gary Welsh has reached his £50,000 fundraising goal. Picture: Mark Westley

The fundraising page has seen more than 900 donations and Gary has said the money will be used for new cancer treatments that are not currently on the NHS.

He said: “We’re over the target we set which is just fantastic - people have been super generous.

“I just want to say a massive thank you to everyone who has donated so far - what can you say?

Gary with his wife Lizzy and Mum Lisbeth. Picture: Mark Westley
Gary with his wife Lizzy and Mum Lisbeth. Picture: Mark Westley

“Especially in this current climate as we’re all struggling with the cost-of-living crisis, the fact that people are able to reach into their pockets and donate to our cause is massively appreciated - you can’t really put it into words.

“The donations could ultimately mean extra months or potentially extra years of life - and I don’t think you can put any kind of price on that really.”

Major fundraising activities have included his mum’s skydive which raised £1,700, his friend Lauren Campbell running the Manchester Half Marathon which raised £2,000 and an Easter trek which saw Gary and Lizzy walk 28 miles raising £1,000.

There have also been events like the Football 4 Gary charity match which raised £7,000, Stowmarket Golf Club’s golf day which raised £2,000 and Fifers Lane charity fundraiser which raised £1,750.

Gary was 34 when he received his diagnosis. Picture: Mark Westley
Gary was 34 when he received his diagnosis. Picture: Mark Westley

Gary has now started a new targeted cancer therapy over the past three months and the first scan since starting this treatment has shown stability and shrinkage.

“It’s not a treatment that can cure me unfortunately,” he said. “But it is a life prolonging treatment and it’s a good sign that I’ve had a good response to it.”

To help fund Gary’s future treatments, you can donate by clicking here.

Further fundraising events include Gary’s close friends Tom and Jade taking on the Three Peaks challenge in August while another group of friends, Dan, Acer, Will, Dave and Daryl, will also be doing the challenge in July.

To learn more about Gary’s story and for more information of the upcoming events, click here to view his website.

Gary’s friends, Brendan, Daniel, James, Levi and Nathan, will also be setting out to trek the whole length of Hadrian’s Wall from coast-to-coast starting on Friday, July 14.

Gary has also joined a small group of young stage four bowel cancer patients called BREAKING BRAF which is a campaign and advocacy group devoted to increasing the cancer treatment options available in the UK.

Helen Canning, 40, Breaking BRAF group member and stage four bowel cancer patient from Bury St. Edmunds, said: “Many people leading healthy & active lifestyles are shockingly diagnosed with late stage BRAF colon cancer.

“At some point they need different treatments - these do exist, but without the ability to pay for private medical care they’re not an option for so many. Sadly even if funds can be raised, not all the drugs that could help are available in the UK.

“We at Breaking BRAF aim to be the voice of these patients, bringing them together and campaigning to allow access to the drugs and drug trials that could save our lives.”

The campaign gets its name from the B-RAF mutation that makes the cancer more aggressive, incurable and it becomes chemo-resistant more quickly – the same mutation that ‘bowel babe’ Dame Deborah James suffered from before her death last year.