Ilford dad paddling 130 miles to Stand Up To Cancer
- Credit: Archant
A dad from Ilford has taken on oar-some challenge – paddling a canoe 130 miles to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer.
Jag Chatha, 37, is part of a team of survivors and supporters, who are canoeing from Chester to Liverpool over five days in the Great Canoe Challenge.
He has swapped dry land for the waterways in order to raise awareness in the Sikh community about the disease.
In 2010, his son Amarvir – now in remission – was diagnosed with leukaemia and kept in a coma for three weeks.
Parents Nikki and Jag were told his organs had shut down and he only had 24 hours to live.
But Amarvir fought back and is now a healthy 13-year-old.
Now Jag and cancer survivor Helen Weller, who are undertaking the mammoth challenge together, set off on Monday and will finish at Liverpool’s Albert Dock on Friday.
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A host of celebrity supporters including Judge Robert Rinder, TV presenters Jake Humphreys and Anthea Turner, actors Michelle Heaton and Tyger Drew-Honey are all taking taking turns to complete one leg of the five-day journey.
Jag, who gave up work for three years to look after Amarvir, said: “After being told we could lose Amarvir, I wanted to do all I could and to be there as much as possible.
“We knew we needed to stick together as a family to get through it.
“He slowly responded well to treatment but there were many setbacks too, with infections and at one point his right lung collapsed and we had to go to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
“There was one time when David Beckham came onto the wards to meet some of the children – Amarvir was feeling so poorly, he said he didn’t want to meet him. He changed his mind a bit later and thankfully he was still there so he did get to meet him, but it showed how ill he was at times.
“He is in remission now, is doing well at school and it is wonderful to see him doing normal things, like a normal teenager. There are still check-ups and of course you always worry about him if he is if he gets ill with a cold or anything, but he has been so brave throughout, it inspires us too.
“I Stand Up To Cancer for him and all the other children we saw on the wards – and want to do everything we can to help raise awareness, including a whole week of canoeing with this incredible challenge!
“For us, sharing our experience and talking about cancer is incredibly important. As Sikhs, there are cultural taboos that we want to break – we are totally open about what has happened and want to help others.
“We came so close to losing Amarvir and we’ll never forget that. We never take life for granted anymore and are very proud of the man he is becoming.
“We owe his survival to the incredible advances that have been made in children’s cancer research, and we want other people to know about what they should do if they spot something unusual about their body or have concerns about their child’s health.”
Stand Up To Cancer is a joint fundraising campaign from Cancer Research UK and Channel 4 and aims to speed up the translation of scientific discoveries into innovative cancer medicine, tests and treatment.
Lynn Daly, Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for London, said: “We salute Jag for taking on this challenge for Stand Up To Cancer.
“The Great Canoe Challenge aims to inspire people to join the rebellion against cancer and raise funds for life-saving research.
“Jag and the rest of our heroic paddlers will be joined by a different celebrity each day as they power their canoes towards the finish line.
“We’re asking people to show their support and help fund game-changing research. Money raised will fund cutting-edge research that accelerates new cancer treatments and tests to UK patients to ultimately save more lives.
“One in two of us in the UK will develop cancer in our lifetime, so now is the time to act.”
Jag is asking Londoners to show their support by donating online here.