Wirral business executive Danny de Brabander was only told he had bowel cancer in January and has now organised a fundraising football match this May. Tony McDonough reports
It was only in January that Wirral business executive Danny de Brabander was told he had bowel cancer. It’s a diagnosis no one wants to hear but now, just weeks later, Danny has embarked on a mission to raise both money and awareness of the disease.
“My mum had bowel cancer a few years ago but I never considered it would happen to me,”said Danny, 37, a network service manager at Birkenhead based Digitel Europe.
“I went to my GP and a blood test was recommended but I put it off thinking it was anything too serious. In September I noticed I was passing blood and realised I had to do something about it. I wouldn’t have done anything if that hadn’t happened.”
Danny, who lives in Claughton, is a former football coach at Southport Under-21s and he has organised a match at Tranmere Rovers’ Prenton Park ground between former players in his Southport team and a side from The Underground Training Station (UTS) gym in Hoylake.
Kick-off will be at 6pm on Sunday, May 19, and following the game there will be food and entertainment, with some familiar names expected to be added to the event and proceeds will go towards the the UTS Foundation and the Clatterbridge Cancer Charity.
The UTS Foundation provides accessible and free structured and meaningful coaching, and health and well-being sessions to support people such as Danny who are living with their cancer diagnosis. It assists people while they undergo their clinical treatment and promotes optimised recovery via prescribed exercise and nutrition advice.
Fitness has always been part of Danny’s life but it has become more important since his diagnosis. He said, “I have remained positive since my diagnosis, if I had been down in the dumps it would have made things much harder.
“I used to be a football coach and I am a big football fan so this seems the perfect way to do some fundraising while increasing awareness of bowel cancer at the same time. Hopefully I will be okay to play on the night but if not I will be there to watch. My diet wasn’t particularly poor before, but I have improved it and it has helped me feel much better.
“My job sees me either spending a lot of time in the car or a lot of time at my desk, so it hasn’t always been easy but exercise and diet have become really important to me. I started going to The Underground Training Station and they have really helped me as they have done with other cancer patients. The service they offer is second to none.”
Get checked out
Danny is keen to spread the word about bowel cancer and the symptoms people should look out for. He said: “I started to get symptoms around March last year. I was suffering from stomach cramps and generally a really heavy feeling, I put it down to irritable bowel syndrome.
“It’s important to recognise that a person within a business, any business, can get bowel cancer, if they have symptoms relating to any illness they must get it checked out. In a lot of businesses many people are sat at a desk or are in a car all day, 50% of bowel cancer cases are caused by the lack of exercise and a poor diet.”
Further tests followed and Danny was referred to The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Wirral. He is expected to have surgery, but in the meantime will be concentrating on arranging the charity event in May. He added: “We hope people will have a great time and, importantly, raise a lot of money for charity,”
Force for good
Dr Colin Robertson of the UTS Foundation, said: “We are delighted to be working with Danny, and supporting him with the organisation of this vital charity event. Danny is one of our UTS Foundation members, and like so many others he is transforming the diagnosis of his bowel cancer into a tremendous force for good for our community.
“Our aim is to reach and help every person on Wirral who is dealing with, and living with, cancer. We are really looking forward to this event and hope that it will help to spread the word about the services that we offer at The UTS Foundation.”
And Elspeth Wilson, fundraising manager for The Clatterbridge Cancer Charity, also said: “Thanks to Danny for organising a fantastic football match to raise vital funds for the charity and to increase awareness on the subject of bowel cancer. Thank you to all the players and supporters for getting behind the charity and making a positive difference to future generations of cancer patients in our area.”