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Swanage family affected by cancer get ready to walk miles for loved ones

September 19, 2023

We know that on average someone is diagnosed in the UK with cancer every 90 seconds, but rarely do we come across a family with so many people diagnosed during the same 5 years.

For the Woolston family in Swanage, this is their extremely sad story. 56-year-old Mark Woolston works full time as a Factory Manager and lives at home with his wife and two young sons.

In April 2022, Mark’s mum died of cancer and you could blow him away with a feather when he was diagnosed just two months later with throat cancer.

Mark underwent treatment before having an operation in August last year. In September, his surgery followed with three months of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Thankfully for Mark, he has recovered well and has been working on getting back to his full health ever since.

He’s taken up walking and feels better than he has in a very long time. Unfortunately, though, when Mark was having his surgery, his mother-in-law was living with terminal pancreatic cancer and passed away in April 2023 – exactly one year on from his own mum’s passing in April 2022.

While Mark was having his chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, his brother-in-law also started receiving treatment for lung cancer.

It is fair to say, this family have been through an awful lot over the past few years. In fact, Mark’s 15-year-old son walked from Swanage to Bournemouth Pier and raised £1,280 last year to support his dad and the Cancer Care Unit team at Poole Hospital.

This year though, Mark is feeling well and took on his own walking challenge late September, walking 22 miles from Swanage to Poole Hospital and back. In true competitive family spirit, Mark was keen to walk even further and is extremely proud to have raised a whopping £4,133.

Mark said: “I feel stronger by the day. My mind remains positive and I know I am luckier than my relatives. I want to give back to the Cancer Care Team at Poole Hospital because they are simply fantastic.”

“My Consultant, Emma King is a remarkable lady. She really helped me through this most unsettling time. She knew I didn’t need trials and that the combination of radiotherapy, chemotherapy and surgery were my best way forward. I felt so reassured by the team every step of the way. Their positivity made me believe I would be ok and now it’s my turn to do what I can to help the on the ward.”