A Blackburn scientist is urging people in his hometown to back life-saving research and sign up for the Race for Life after losing his mum to cancer.

Dominic Rothwell, who grew up in the Longshaw area of Blackburn, lost his mum, Margaret Rothwell, to colorectal cancer aged 74 in 2020.

The 53-year-old said he understands how heart-breaking the disease can be, and is now asking people to sign up for Cancer Research UK's Race for Life at Witton Park in June to raise money for life-saving research projects to beat cancer.

Dominic, deputy director at the Cancer Research UK national biomarker centre in Manchester, said: “Cancer has started to affect my life more the older I have become.

"As we know one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetimes.

“Unfortunately, I lost my mum in the last couple of years, so I understand how heart-breaking this disease can be.

Lancashire Telegraph: Dominic Rothwell and some of his teamDominic Rothwell and some of his team (Image: Race For Life)

“But I am very fortunate with the job that I do that I can make a difference with cancer research funding.

“I get to see the benefits when we translate the research we’re doing directly to cancer patients, and I can really see those tangible differences.”

Dominic’s research focuses on biomarker testing, which uses liquid biopsies to look for genes, proteins and other cancer-associated molecules that can provide information about a person’s cancer and how it is behaving. 

These biomarkers can identify an individual’s tumour type to predict what treatment might be best for them and to anticipate when a tumour might become resistant to a particular treatment, so clinicians can change course.

His research could lead to new treatments and improve survival rates for people with cancer.  

Dominic is encouraging people in his Blackburn to take part in the Race for Life event at Witton Park, Blackburn on Wednesday, June 12.

Every year around 44,100 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West of England.

Money raised at the Race for Life enables scientists like Dominic to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, moving closer to a world where everyone can live longer, better lives free from the fear of the disease.   

Dominic hopes his work will inspire people to raise funds.

He said: “We are very lucky at the national biomarker centre that we do world-leading research.

"But, the kind of work we do is very expensive, and all of it is funded purely by donations to Cancer Research UK.

“I’d like to thank everyone across Lancashire who supports Race for Life. The funds raised already help people living with cancer every single day and will make a difference to prevent, diagnose and treat more than 200 types of cancer for patients in generations to come.” 

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with headline sponsor Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, raises millions of pounds every year across the UK to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.    

The Race for Life events in Blackburn are open to all ages and abilities. People can choose from 3k, 5k and 10k distances depending on fitness levels.  

Last year, Cancer Research UK spent around £26 million on research in the North West aimed at developing new and kinder ways to tackle cancer.

Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson for the North West, Jemma Humphreys, said: “We are grateful to Dominic for his support.  No matter how cancer affects us, life is worth racing for.

"Sadly nearly one in two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. Race for Life has the power not only to transform lives but to save them.

"We’re proud that Race for Life has already helped double survival rates in the UK.   

“We’d love for as many people as possible in Lancashire and beyond to join us at Race for Life. It’s a fun and achievable challenge for everyone and we mean everyone.

"Walk, jog, run or take on the course however it suits best. It’s a chance to feel the power of moving together with fellow Race for Lifers and have fun with it.  

“Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, in it for the medals or just for the fun of fundraising, there is a place for everyone.

“We are also looking for volunteers to help on the day. This includes course marshals, flag carriers, water station and medal table volunteers. 

"Our volunteers are the heart and soul of Race for Life events. However you can help, for however long, you’ll be doing something amazing.”

Andy Curran, chief executive of Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, said: “We are incredibly proud to continue as headline sponsor for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, with the opportunity to encourage participation across the country. 

“By working to raise funds for life-saving research, we can move towards a future where people live longer and healthier lives, free of cancer.” 

Sign up for the race at raceforlife.cancerresearchuk.org.