N&N nurse to take on London Marathon in memory of grandfather

Harriet Richards in her uniform. Photo: Harriet Richards

Harriet Richards in her uniform. Photo: Harriet Richards - Credit: Harriet Richards

A nurse at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) is swapping her uniform for running shoes as she prepares to take on the London Marathon.

Harriet Richards running. Photo Harriet Richards

Harriet Richards running. Photo Harriet Richards - Credit: Harriet Richards

Harriet Richards, 32 from Hethersett is a senior nurse endoscopist and has worked at the NNUH for almost seven years.

Mrs Richards will be running the London Marathon in memory her grandfather, Pip Pentelow, 79, who died fours months after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2016.

Bowel cancer is poignant in her personal and professional life and she is hoping to raise £2,500 for Bowel Cancer UK during bowel cancer awareness month.

Mrs Richards is urging people who are eligible between the ages of 60 and 74 to take up the offer of free screening.

Harriet Richards is running for Bowel Cancer UK. Photo: Harriet Richards

Harriet Richards is running for Bowel Cancer UK. Photo: Harriet Richards - Credit: Harriet Richards

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She said: 'My grandpa never accepted the offer of bowel screening, which he would have been invited to every two years until he was 74.

'If he had chosen to undergo the very simple process of bowel screening, the outcome could have been very different for him.

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'This is why raising awareness of the condition is so very important to me.

By raising money for the UK's leading bowel cancer charity their work will help to fund vital research and lifesaving work to help stop bowel cancer by campaigning for early diagnosis and access to the best treatment and care for all patients.'

As a senior nurse endoscopist, Mrs Richards regularly undertakes procedures for the national bowel cancer screening programme.

She added: 'This is a very rewarding yet challenging and demanding job which requires patient participation in helping to reduce the incidence of bowel cancer with the emphasis on early diagnosis.

'I see first-hand on a day to day basis how common bowel cancer is and how dramatically it can affect people's lives and would very much like to see this decrease. So please don't ignore the invitation of a free screening when presented the opportunity.

'It is always better long-term to find out as early as possible if you are affected in which in turn significantly increases the probability of successful cure and further prevention.'

The bowel cancer screening programme at NNUH is offered to a population of almost one million across Norfolk and parts of Cambridge and Suffolk since 2006.

The Norwich Bowel Cancer Screening Centre was the second centre nationally to start inviting patients to take part in 2006 and the third centre to start delivering bowel scope screening nationally in 2013.

In 2017, 102,280 people aged 60-74 years were invited for a Faecal Occult Blood test (FOBt).

63,048 people were screened by the Norwich Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and there were 1,707 people that went on to have a colonoscopy and 48.8pc had pre-malignant polyps removed.

In the same year, 5,883 patients between 55 and 60 had bowel scope procedures carried out by the Norwich Bowel Cancer Screening Programme and 9.2pc had pre-malignant polyps.

The screening centre will be moving premises later this year to the new Quadram Institute along with the gastroenterology unit.

It is hoped that this will increase capacity to deliver further procedures for FOBt and bowel scope screening.

To sponsor Mrs Richards, visit her Virgin Money page.

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