James Armstrong_webMy story starts with my Father; he was an Australian artist whose creativity inspired me. In 1970 he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He had two bowel resections and survived for 35 years. He showed me true strength and perseverance. Sadly, in 2005 he died after recurrence of rectal tumours and heart disease. I always knew that I had to monitor my health, as many of these cancers are genetic. My GP was aware of family history and I started having colonoscopies in 2001. In 2010, one of my worst nightmares came true; there was one pre-cancerous polyp in my results. I had an anterior bowel resection and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family and friends.

Ever since my operation, I’ve really taken care of my health and kept up an active lifestyle. At the moment I am training for the Melbourne Age Run, going to the gym 5-7 times a week. I’m doing a 20 minute workout on the bike and treadmill and 10 minutes of weights. Once a   month or so I will go for a run around the Tan, which is 4.9km and my favourite course, that way I get an idea of my running fitness.

This won’t be the first time I have participated in the Age Run Melbourne; the main reason I’m running is to raise awareness and funds for the GI Cancer Institute and give me a focus to keep fit.

I‘ve always found the Age Run Melbourne to be a well organised event and it allows you to choose the charity of your choice, mine being the GI Cancer Institute.

As a survivor and son, I wanted to give back and decided to participate in the AGITG Consumer Advisory Panel (CAP). The main goal of the CAP is to help others in the future by using my own experience to help identify gaps in research, help recruit patients and make the process of being  part of a trial easier.   I’m really passionate about the importance of clinical trials and their benefits. Although I never participated in one personally, I have studied the design and implementation of clinical trials in my Master’s Program.

I think it’s paramount that we raise awareness about the benefits of clinical trials and how important they are in the fight against cancer.  I want to be a cancer advocate and I hope that sharing my story helps others.

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