Cancer survivor took up running to increase chances of seeing baby grow up

Beverley Rouse, PA

A man who survived bowel cancer after losing his own father to the disease has started running to give himself the best chance of watching his baby daughter grow up.

Jake Brockwell, 32, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November 2019 and a month later had surgery to remove a small growth.

His father Lee died 19 years ago from the same condition and Jake has since discovered he has Lynch syndrome, which means he has a genetic mutation that increases his risk of getting some cancers.

Macmillan charity marathon runner
Jake Brockwell is training for the Virgin Money London Marathon (Jake Brockwell/Macmillan/PA)

Elsie-Grace is now six months old and Mr Brockwell, from Coxheath in Kent, is training for the Virgin Money London Marathon as he tries to have a fit and healthy lifestyle to maximise his chances of seeing her grow up.

“I just need to give myself and my daughter the best chance, to ensure I stay healthy,” he told the PA news agency.

He said it was not a shock to find he had cancer.

“In my heart I expected it because my nan had also passed away from cancer,” he said.

“In 2019 there was a large polyp that had cancer cells. They had to operate but I didn’t have to have any chemo or anything.”

He had a colonoscopy in October 2019, received the diagnosis the following month, and had a successful right hemicolectomy operation in December.

“It all happened so fast,” he told PA.

“Sometimes I feel like I didn’t even have cancer but I did.”

Mr Brockwell – a distribution and transport manager at Kent Dairy where his wife, Jade, 29, is sales and marketing manager – said he was good at running as a boy.

“One of my favourite memories was when I was in the 800m and my dad was there and I won by about 100m or something.

“He died the year after.”

Virgin Money London Marathon 2021
Jake Brockwell with his father Lee, who died of bowel cancer 19 years ago (Family handout/PA)

Mr Brockwell was only 13 when his father died aged 37, and his brother Harry was just 10.

As he got older, Mr Brockwell said he “got into going out and clubbing and having fun and didn’t really do anything”.

“After the operation for about six months I couldn’t do any lifting. I became very unhealthy, put on quite a lot of weight, was eating and not doing any exercise.

“I thought I needed to sort myself out so I took up running.”

He added: “About June last year, I just started plodding away. As the weeks went by and the months went by I went further.

“I have not been trying to overdo it. I’m trying to build fitness and make it part of life.

“I love it. It takes my mind of it. A bit of my own space.

“I feel great. I’m quite a strong-headed person. I deal with things.

“I find it difficult to feel emotions, I’m quite stern. It gives me a bit of a release when I’m out running, pushing myself.”

Macmillan charity marathon runner
Jake Brockwell with his wife Jade and six-month-old daughter Elsie-Grace (Jake Brockwell/Macmillan/PA)

Mr Brockwell, whose weight has dropped from 16st 4lb in March 2020 to around 14st 12lb, said: “I was just going to run the marathon to see how well I do, but now I want to set myself a goal and run it like a race. I’m taking it quite seriously.

“It’s changed my life. It’s given me something to achieve.”

He is checked regularly for new cancer cells and Elsie-Grace will be checked for Lynch syndrome when she is 18.

Mr Brockwell chose to support Macmillan because a nurse had looked after his father.

“I thought she was like a superhero. She was always there and always so lovely,” he said.

“I thought it was a nice idea to give something back.”

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