THE man in charge of Blackburn's Race for Life has told East Lancashire people: "Don't gamble with your health!"

Brett Henry, 47, had his own brush with cancer 18 months ago when a skin cancer lump began to grow on his nose.

In a routine check-up with his GP, he was told the growth could be dangerous, and when hospital tests showed it was malignant, a large part of his nose had to be removed and reconstructed with skin grafts.

Although this officially makes Californian-born Brett a "cancer survivor" he doesn't consider himself as such, and instead is thankful that the disease was spotted quickly.

He lost his mother-in-law two years ago - she had been a lifelong smoker and had lung cancer that spread to her brain and kidneys.

The head of festivals and events at Blackburn with Darwen Council is now organising the Witton Park race together with Cancer Research UK.

The former publicist for US news network ABC, who moved to the UK with his Lancashire wife four years ago, said he had always been careful in the sun, wearing high-factor sunblock on his regular trips sailing and skiing, but he had still been affected by cancer.

He said: "Many forms of cancer are preventable through lifestyle choi-ces, and through awareness and intervention, they can be treated very successfully.

"I don't consider myself a cancer survivor' because with me it was nipped in the bud and it wasn't a case of having to attack it with everything I had. The people who go through that are the real cancer survivors."

"I lost my mother-in-law two years ago. It was terrible and it was entirely preventable. It really upsets me that here we are in 2008 and so many people are still smoking, especially young people who know it's a fatal habit. It confounds me. We all know that to give yourself the best protection you have to eat healthily, exercise, only drink in moderation and never smoke.

"And if you have a good relationship with your GP, they can tell if something has gone wrong and intervene as early as possible.

"It's great being able to be involved with the Race for Life through my job, because Cancer Research UK do more than research - an awful lot of their work is in raising awareness and promoting prevention of cancer, and helping people to help themselves.

"The Race for Life is always fantastic and in the past couple of years we've had to make it a two-day event because so many women want to take part.

"Obviously I'm involved with the Blackburn one, but where you do it doesn't matter. Everyone is there to raise awareness and to raise money."

More than 2,000 people have already signed up to the Races for Life in Blackburn's Witton Park on Tuesday June 3 and Wednesday June 4. Burnley's Race for Life, in Towneley Park on Sunday June 8, is already full.

To register for the Blackburn races, visit www.racefor