My whole family has cancer gene except me - Cookstown man

Arthur and Michelle in Peru
Arthur and Michelle in Peru

A Cookstown man, whose whole family has been devastated by cancer, is giving up his Garth Brooks tickets for the cause.

Arthur Carson, who lost both his brother and a friend to the killer disease his father has also been fighting for over twenty years, is heroically auctioning off his chance to see the country sensation.

The 42-year-old said that if he is going to ask others to sponsor him in a challenge for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, then it’s only fair they see him give up something important too.

Arthur, whose entire family — except him — have the ‘cancer gene’, told the MAIL: “My father has had cancer for a long time, my brother died of bowel cancer and I have a friend there, who about two years ago got bowel cancer as well.

“They were both too young — in this day and age you shouldn’t be dying of bowel cancer — if it’s detected early enough.

“People have causes that are close to their hearts, and cancer is mine.

“If you could see the hurt in peoples’ faces when they have it, it’s not even them dying — it’s the whole suffering beforehand,” he added.

So, to help families afflicted with cancer, Arthur has decided to do everything he can to help.

“For Cancer Focus I’m doing a Focus Fit challenge,” he said, “it’s a six-week challenge with Fit to Function gym.

“It starts on the 15th of February and it is being run by Emma McCann who works for Cancer Focus in Mid Ulster.”

Focus Fit is a challenge, which Cancer Focus has said, raised almost £60,000 for them in the last year in Mid Ulster alone.

Participants complete a fitness programme, improving their own overall health, whilst raising funds for the charity’s various services in the area.

And Arthur said giving up his tickets will be worth it if he saves just one life.

He is especially impressed with the Cancer Focus Keeping Well van, which tours workplaces across Mid Ulster providing free health checks for anyone who wants them.

“This van is probably the best thing I’ve ever heard tell of,” he said, “as a lot of people won’t go to the doctor, especially men.”

Indeed, his own brother Derek, who died from bowel cancer at just 31, was diagnosed too late to save his life.

“The tickets are at £160 pound each now,” he said, “I’m selling them on my Facebook page and all the money from the tickets will be going to Cancer Focus.

“The bidding is going on ‘til I finish the [Focus Fit] challenge on the 31st of March,” he added.

Emma McCann, Community Fundraiser for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland, “We are delighted with the efforts by Arthur, even before the Focus Fit training has begun.

“He is an inspiration to others through his motivation to raise money for Cancer Focus, which will be spent locally.

“We wish him the best of luck on his journey to

get fit and raise money

for a great cause.”

This is not the first time Arthur has taken up the mantle of fundraiser to help those afflicted with the disease that casts a constant shadow over the Carson household.

“Me and my partner did a thing for Macmillan Cancer [Support], as it was them who looked after my brother when he came home.

“We climbed Machu Pichu in 2008, and we raised £6,000 for Macmillan that time,” he said, as a thank you for their support.

“After that — with my father having the exact same cancer — then we all had to go and genetically tested.

“I don’t have the gene, but the rest of my family does, but it’s not a bad thing as they go and get regular cancer checks twice a year, and they know what to eat.

“It’s family disease really. When someone in your family gets cancer, it’s not just that person that gets it.”