Rare cancer ‘really puts everything into a new perspective’

Paul Bird with his daughter Amy and wife Mary  Picture: Vernon Nash
Paul Bird with his daughter Amy and wife Mary Picture: Vernon Nash
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A FAMILY that has been brought closer together through tragedy will be abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower to give back to those who have supported them.

Paul Bird, from Bedhampton, was diagnosed with a gastro intestinal stromal tumour in September 2015.

It is a form of cancer that is immune to chemotherapy, with no other known cure.

On Sunday, May 6 he will be joined by his wife Mary, his daughter Amy, and almost 50 others as they spend the day abseiling down the tower to raise money for PAWS-GIST – a national charity funding research into finding a cure for the tumours, as well as bringing patients together through support sessions.

He said: ‘Because it is such a rare form of cancer, it doesn’t actually get any funding – so I wanted to do something to hopefully find a treatment or a cure.

‘The charity itself is very under funded but the support is so vital for the people affected by it.

‘I still have scans every six months. I am where I am and there’s really nothing I can do about that.

‘Abseiling down the Spinnaker Tower is nothing compared to the day you have to go up to London for a scan, or tell your family about what’s happened.

‘It really puts everything into a new perspective.’

Paul’s wife, Mary, said: ‘People can run marathons and so on but to get everyone together in one go I thought this would be the best thing to do.

‘I am absolutely terrified but I have more than 10 people from work joining me, so we’ll all be cheering each other on.

‘There’s also four or five other patients taking part from across the UK, who Paul met through the support groups run by the charity.

‘We are hoping to raise £15,000 – we had previously set a target of £10,000 but we ended up reaching that target really quickly.

His daughter, Amy Bird, 23, said: ‘The support group seemed to really open his eyes, and he came back saying that he wanted to do something to support it.

‘There are people from Portsmouth, Manchester, Wales and so on coming down for the event, which is really exciting.

‘It is great to be able to support my dad in something like this – he has raised so much money for the charity as well and that feels amazing.

‘For us all to be here is so special and it will be a very important day.’

To support Paul and his family in their Spinnaker Tower abseil fundraiser, people can go to uk.virginmoneygiving.com/fund/Spinnaker.