Bath University Student on a Mission to Beat Cancer at the 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon

February 14, 2017 // Rachel Ellis


Lining up at the start line of the 2017 Vitality Bath Half Marathon on Sunday 12th March will be a number of people running for Lead Charity Cancer Research UK, hoping to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured and to raise awareness of the disease in the local area.

Among these will be 21-year-old student Jack Roberts, who is not only running for close family and friends living with cancer, but who has taken matters somewhat into his own hands by studying Pharmacology at Bath University with an additional module on cancer.

“Although I believe the eventual cure will come from gene therapy, I know that pharmacological treatments can be used to improve patients’ quality of life. It is a huge topic of research, which I knew before university, but I have learnt much about the disease and have chosen an optional module on it starting this term”, Jack confirms.

It is an honourable yet understandable career choice for someone who has seen both his grandfathers suffer from prostate cancer, one having survived and the other having sadly passed away.

“I was thrown in at the deep end in regards to cancer,” recalls Jack. “I obviously knew what it was, but never thought I would be affected by it. Now knowing that both my grandfathers have had it, I know full well that there is a chance I will suffer from it.

“I found out quite suddenly that my paternal grandad, Tony, had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He had suffered from polio as a child and had been on crutches all his life, so he is no stranger to illness, and I knew that – but when he was diagnosed with cancer it was a real wake-up call to me and a reminder of his mortality. Luckily Tony is now fine (apart from his other disability) and his cancer is no longer progressive; radiotherapy and hormones have done the trick and he gets checked up every six months or so.

“My maternal Grandad, David, was diagnosed with prostate cancer about a year after Tony and sadly was not as lucky, as he recently passed away. I really saw the harsh, life-ruining side of cancer this time, initially with things like hair loss after chemo and weight, and the simple awful quality of life towards the end. He was very poorly in hospital towards the last two weeks of his life and I believe he was ready to die, which is a hard truth to swallow as a grandson. My mother’s best friend, Jacqui, has also recently been diagnosed with breast cancer, telling me that the awful disease is not done with my family and friends yet.”

For Jack, studying at Bath University had already given him the idea of running the award-winning Vitality Bath Half Marathon, which is set to attract 15,000 runners and 40,000 spectators to the streets of Bath this spring. “I believe it is a good thing to do at least once whilst at Bath University, but when I learnt that Cancer Research UK was the Lead Charity, I knew it was fate that I was to run it.

“Although cancer has had a huge impact on my adolescent and young adult life, I know my family is not the only one affected. For that reason I will try to raise as much as possible for CRUK, so we can improve treatments of this horrible disease, and I will not be running the half marathon for David, Tony and Jacqui, but everyone out there who has suffered from or been affected by cancer.”

All the money Jack raises for Cancer Research UK will help the charity to make a valuable difference in Bath and the South West, with all donations from the Vitality Bath Half going towards research in the local area. As the race’s Lead Charity, CRUK is committed to bringing its research to life in schools in and around Bath, with the aim of educating and inspiring children to lead a healthy lifestyle. With the firm belief that education is key, and knowing that 40% of all cancers can be avoided through living a healthy lifestyle, CRUK’s target over the next 12 months is to help as many people in the Bath and South West to be as healthy as they can be.

It will be the first time for Jack running his current home town’s race, and he admits that he has no running history or training plan as such. “Just go for as many runs as possible and try not to collapse!” he laughs. He is however hoping to complete the race in a respectable 2 hours 10 minutes, and it’s sure to spur him on with his studies back in the lab as he works to understand and beat cancer.

Jack’s fundraising page can be seen here