Two women who suffered with bowel disorders and needed surgery are walking the 630-miles South West Coast Path dressed as a loo roll and a poo emoji to break the taboo about talking about the subject and bowel cancer.

Becky McWass and Caroline Bramwell began the walk last week, stepping out from Minehead to Porlock.

It’s part of a charity’s virtual coast path challenge – but the two women have decided to complete the route for real.

Becky, who lives in Plymouth, had ten benign tumours, five of which had taken up residence on her sigmoid colon and the rest on her bladder, causing her to be doubly incontinent. She went through cancer triage as medics were unsure if it was cancerous or not. However, luckily, they were benign and had been caught early enough to be operated on prior to further damage to her bowel and colon.

“I’m genuinely excited to be taking on this challenge as it was a long road back to recovery post-surgery. Having been a marathon runner in the past, I’m looking forward to regaining my fitness and hope to help support others enroute.”

Charity walkers dressed as a poo emoji and toilet roll
Becky and Caroline (Bowel Cancer West)

When charity Bowel Cancer West conducted a region-wide survey, it unearthed some alarming statistics for the South West. Despite bowel cancer being the second biggest cancer killer in the UK, from the survey of 1000 adults, results showed:

:: 9 in 10 admitted that their knowledge of bowel cancer is average to poor

:: 1 in 3 know someone with bowel cancer

:: 2 in 5 would be embarrassed discussing bowels with a GP

:: 1 in 8 would be so embarrassed they would avoid the GP unless urgent

Only 58% of those eligible for the bowel cancer screening programme have participated.

Caroline Bramwell, from Ilfracombe, had lived for several years with debilitating Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disorder, which left her totally housebound and having to be within a few feet of a toilet at all times, and even became hospitalised and needed blood transfusions.

Caroline took the tough decision to have her large intestine removed after her quality of life declined, and now lives with a permanent ileostomy (stoma), which many bowel cancer patients can end up with.

The Virtual Ramblings South West Coastal Path Challenge has been created by the charity to encourage people to get active and take on the challenge of walking 630 miles over the course of the year, which they can track in real time across the charity’s interactive map. When they reach each of the 52 stages, they will receive a virtual postcard for the destination they’ve reached.

To cover the distance in 12 months will average just under two miles walked each day.

To make this accessible to everyone, participants can cover the distance by any means of human power. And for those who wish to join Rebecca and Caroline on one of their real-time walk days, they can keep abreast of where they will be on the Bowel Cancer West social media.

All money raised from event entry fees will go to supporting the work of Bowel Cancer West, as will funds raised by Rebecca and Caroline on their walk, who will also be sharing information to help raise awareness enroute.

Participants can join the Virtual Ramblings Challenge at any point via registering on the Virtual Ramblings website.

South West coast path charity walkers
Becky and Caroline planning their charity walk over a cuppa (Bowel Cancer West)