Given just two years to live after his prostate cancer diagnosis in 2014, Kevin Webber is joining Jeff Stelling for all 15 days of his 400-mile March for Men. He tells us how he's tackled some of the world's most gruelling ultra marathons since, the amazing support he's received from strangers as well as family, and why he thinks the final day of the March with his wife will be the most emotional.
Following my diagnosis of advanced prostate cancer two-and-a-half years ago – with a prognosis of only two years at worst – I’m understandably delighted to not only still be here, but also have the opportunity to undertake all 15 days of Jeff's March for Men as part of my own 1,000-mile fundraising challenge.
I find it so amazing that Jeff is not only marching for Prostate Cancer UK again, but has upped the ante from ten to 15 marathons a day. I marched with him on the last leg of last year’s March, and for him to do all that again plus five more is incredible.Sponsor Jeff
I’m so proud of Jeff as while I know he has friends who sadly have the disease, I feel he’s also doing this for my boys aged 17 and 12 [pictured above with Kevin's wife and daughter]. That’s because the risk of them getting prostate cancer is 1-in-4 as I have had it. So the funds he raises will hopefully find that elusive cure before my kids have to worry about it.
Jeff was great last year [pictured with Kevin below], spending time with fellow marchers who he didn't know each day, including me at that time. This year, of course, we’ll know each other and I’m sure we’ll both have stories to swap that will help keep us both going when it gets tough.
I mentioned my 1,000-mile challenge, which includes a number of extreme ultra marathons in places like the Sahara, Spain and Iceland. The ‘1,000’ is roughly the number of men who die each month in the UK from prostate cancer, so I want to raise awareness and funds to get rid of it once and for all.
I’m quite an outgoing person and love meeting the other marchers, who all have their own reasons for being there. But I want to thank them, too, as they are indirectly helping my boys like Jeff. I also want to give them hope, as many are related to someone with prostate cancer like me and I want to show that a grim diagnosis doesn’t mean you have to mope around being miserable. You realise how much of life there is to be lived, ill or healthy, so just live it!
When you get diagnosed initially, your world implodes – and that's when you need good support around you. I was lucky insofar as I found Prostate Cancer UK’s online community forum straightaway, which has been amazing in helping me. I like to think I help others on occasions now there, too, with my experiences.
My employer, RBS , has been amazing, too – both the individuals I work with and the organisation. More than 70 RBS colleagues and friends are even going to walk with me for one or more days of the March – I could ask nothing more from any of them.
Then there are people I know and don't know who have heard about my fundraising challenges and have donated, helping me raise over £75k since my diagnosis. Plus those I’ve inspired to do fundraising of their own for Prostate Cancer UK, who will raise another £100k in 2017 alone. Incredible. Recently, I joined 60 guys from NatWest doing their own marathon march in London [pictured above], and others have organised raffles, golf days and even a gig, collectively raising over £50k in May alone.
Finally, there’s my family – in particular my wife, Sarah, who has had to roll with all the punches I’ve taken, too, and a few more besides. She’s joining me on the last day of the March for March: it will be an emotional time for me walking to Newcastle with her. There may well be tears!
Despite me having faced harder challenges – from chemotherapy to running the Marathon des Sables [pictured above], twice – the March is going to be up there with the toughest. Walking 15 consecutive days will be about attrition and – in part – monotony, as we’ll be walking a total of around 150 hours. But I know I’ll be able to draw on so many uplifting thoughts since just being there is something that, 30 months ago, didn’t seem possible.
If nothing else, I want to inspire everyone to push themselves a bit more in life, as the mental rewards are so uplifting. In ultra running they say: ‘better to start and finish than never start at all’. The hardest part is putting your foot on the start-line, whatever that start-line may be for the individual. So what's stopping you?Sponsor Jeff