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Johann Tasker

5000-mile ride raises kidney cancer awareness

Published on 5th May 2015

Jon and Sarah BirchallFarmer Jon Birchall, husband of Guild member Sarah Birchall, (both pictured), is setting off on the ride of his life to raise funds for earlier diagnosis of kidney cancer.

A terminal kidney cancer patient himself, Jon will ride his motorbike 5,000 miles around the coast of mainland Britain in support of the James Whale Fund for Kidney Cancer.

The 54-year-old – who was BBC Farmer of the Year in 2010 – will set off at 12 noon on 6 June from the Comedy Carpet in the shadow of the iconic Blackpool Tower, Lancashire.

Jon will complete the ‘Facing Up 2 Kidney Cancer’ ride in five stages on his much-loved 28-year-old Yamaha FJ1200 between June and September.

A full itinerary is available at www.facingup2kidneycancer.org.

Jon’s cancer was misdiagnosed in 2010. Despite a correct diagnosis and surgery in 2013 to remove his left kidney and tumour, it was later found that the cancer had already spread to his lungs.

He said: “Receiving the news that my kidney cancer had spread, and that my prognosis was terminal, had a devastating effect on Sarah and me, along with our friends and family.

“I'm not a do nothing person, and once I’d conquered the initial shock, I made my mind up to do everything I could to prevent other people suffering the same fate.

“I want to emphasise to everyone, including the medical profession, the vital importance of early diagnosis of kidney cancer.”

More than 10,000 people are diagnosed with kidney cancer annually and over 4,000 lose their lives to the disease each year – and the numbers are increasing.

Kidney cancer is the eighth most common cancer in the UK and the seventh most common type of cancer among men and tenth among women.

Early diagnosis greatly improves survival rates.

A Facebook page has been created at www.facebook.com/FacingUp2KidneyCancer for people to follow Jon’s progress as well as to offer support.

This could take the form of sponsorship, contributing towards the running costs of the bike or helping with overnight accommodation and meals en route.

A Twitter account is up and running at @facingup2kc. Anyone wishing to interact on social media should use the #facingup2kc hashtag.

Guild members, individuals, motorbike clubs, societies, businesses and other supporters are all invited to join Jon at any point in the event.

Jon said: “I love my motorbike and I love this country and I want to see as much of it as possible. This is a ride I have always wanted to do and now I have a real purpose to do it.

“I would love to meet as many people as possible as I travel around the country, I’m very excited about the ride.

 “Come out, say hello or get on your bike and join me for a few – or many – miles but please, give to the fund because it is so important.”

Offers of support and donations can be made at www.facingup2kidneycancer.org.

Alternatively, donations can be made at Just Giving (search facingup2kidneycancer) or by texting JBKC55 £5 to 70070 to donate £5 (or another amount preceded by £).

Supporters wishing to ride with Jon for part of the trip and journalists wanting to cover the story should email sarah@facingup2kidneycancer.org.

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