Team of 28 to tackle Snowdon hike to raise funds for Guts UK in memory of Broadstairs man Steven McLaughlin

Steven McLaughlin sadly died just 11 weeks after his diagnosis

A team of 28 family members and friends will take on a seven mile hike up Snowdon in Wales to raise funding and awareness of rare cancers in memory of former Broadstairs resident Steven McLaughlin.

Steven was diagnosed with oesophageal and stomach cancer last December and within 11 weeks he passed away, two days before his 51st birthday.

The former Holy Cross pupil, who had moved to France in recent years, was a fit and healthy man who had spent his younger years in the RAF before becoming a financial advisor, owning several of his own businesses.

He ran daily, didn’t smoke, wasn’t overweight and didn’t drink an excessive amount of alcohol. The dad-of-one enjoyed adventure and had climbed many mountains around the world to raise money for different charities, he had jumped out of a plane 27 times, abseiled 170m down the Spinnaker Tower in 1 minute 43 seconds and lived life to its fullest.

But in Summer last year Steven began to struggle to swallow and eat and suffered excruciating stomach pains.

His youngest sister Joanne Whitworth said: “He thought it was indigestion at first. When he did try to eat he would find himself hanging over the table holding his stomach in so much pain. Friends would say it was heartburn.

“He soon made a doctor’s appointment and was told it was his thyroid and put on a course of medication to help. At this point the weight loss was excessive, he was already a slim man, so it was very noticeable. It was weeks before he had a gastroscopy which then showed the oesophageal and stomach cancers.

“By this point he was described as having severe malnutrition by his oncologist, at 66.7kg in weight.

“He was fitted with a feeding tube and had one lot of chemotherapy, but his liver and kidneys were failing. 11 weeks after being diagnosed, Steven passed away. “

Steven and Joanne

The Broadstairs  mum-of-two says despite experiencing cancer in the family before no-one was aware of just how deadly stomach and oesophageal cancer can be if it’s not detected in time.

She added: “Steven had all the signs and symptoms but the endoscopy (endoscopic gastroduodenoscopy) was the last resort when it should have been done straight away to at least rule cancer out.”

Now the family have pledged to raise awareness of the ‘Less Survivable’ cancer group (lung, pancreatic, liver, brain, oesophageal and stomach) and how early diagnosis really matters.

Steven Abseiling The Spinnaker Tower

Joanne said: “Before Steven passed we were able to talk with him about fundraising to help raise awareness for the cancer’s he had. He particularly liked the idea of us all climbing mountains to help with the fundraising. Where I told him we would all meet him at the top and shout his name, he responded with ‘I’d like that.’”

Steven with his daughter Charlotte

On July 8, the 28-strong team will climb Snowdon. Among the group tackling the hike will be Steven’s mum Josephine Richardson, who currently has lung cancer, his daughter Charlotte Norris , ex wife Alison McLaughlin, four siblings Joanne, Rachel Richardson, Gemma Richardson and Mark Richardson and friends. Josephine will be the oldest climber at the age of 73 and Joanne’s son Alfie will be the youngest at the age of four.

Steven and mum Josephine

The aim is to raise awareness of the cancers and fundraise for Guts UK.

Joanne said: “The proceeds will be going to the Less Survivable Cancer team which is highly underfunded. We need to raise more awareness, empowering people to seek help sooner because, especially with these cancers, the sooner they are diagnosed, the more we can actually give people a fighting chance. These cancers simply are not diagnosed early enough to be treated successfully.”

Joanne  is also planning to run a half marathon in London this year and has signed up for April’s London Marathon.

Steven and his siblings

She is also spreading awareness through her 90,000 social media followers from her lifestyle blog Petite Side Of Style and there is a fundraising page which has reached £1,485 of a £3,000 target.

Some cancers have seen remarkable progress in survivability but others are as deadly as they were 40 years ago. Together, six of the less survivable cancers -lung, pancreatic, liver, brain, oesophageal and stomach – are responsible for half of all deaths from common cancers and make up a quarter of cancer cases.

People diagnosed with these cancers have a shockingly low life expectancy. Today, on average, the chance of someone surviving for five years after being diagnosed with one of these cancers is only 16%.

Joanne, 32, said: “We hope that from our unbearable loss, we can make a positive change by funding research that gives those who suffer a better chance of surviving.”

Find the fundraising page by clicking here

Guts UK

Guts UK is the only UK charity funding research into the digestive system from top to tail; the gut, liver and pancreas.

People are suffering and dying because of a lack of knowledge about our guts. Guts UK exists to change that.

Research has been underfunded, understaffed and undervalued but since 1971 Guts UK has funded almost 300 projects and invested nearly £16 million into medical research that leads to better diagnoses and treatments for millions of people.

Find out more at: https://gutscharity.org.uk/

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this article and for bringing this condition to the fore. This and all forms of cancer create a very worrying and upsetting time for all friends and family. I personally can only praise all members of the Kent & Canterbury Hospital urology team for all the care and attention they have given me personally. Just to make all the general public aware:- May is Cancer awareness month. My own daughter is running every day in order to raise awareness and sponsor funds. Yes I am very proud of her.

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