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Cyclist climbing Mont-Ventoux

Climbing Mountains for Colorectal Cancer

Date Posted: September 13, 2018Reading time: 3 minutes

by Mark Gascoigne


As many of you know, this past February we held our tenth annual Get Up There for Colorectal Cancer (GUT). It was another great success and I’d like to thank all the organizing committee, volunteers, participants and sponsors for their support. We started GUT in my dad’s honour the winter after his death. This September 21st will mark the tenth anniversary of my dad’s passing. All who knew Bob would agree that 70 was far too young for someone with so much life and love left to give.

Bob Gascoigne with his grandchildren

Robert ‘Bob’ Gascoigne with two of his favourite Things! Connor and Liam circa 2002.

Ironically, of everyone I know, he’s the guy that would love ‘the GUT’ the most. He loved winter, loved skiing, loved to work-out and loved beer and chicken wings! The mandate of GUT from day one was screening for Colorectal Cancer. Of all the cancers, and they are all nasty, this is one that gives us all a fighting chance if we are vigilant. Since, when detected early it is almost 100% curable. Unfortunately for him, it was not. He had asked for a colonoscopy years before but was told by his physician that it was not necessary. And back then the world-leading screening program we have here in Nova Scotia was not yet in place. Had it been up and running even 15 years ago my Dad would be alive today. I have no doubt he would have taken advantage of the program and been a proud advocate of it as he loved Nova Scotia and thought it was the best place on earth.

Amazingly, a majority of Nova Scotian’s do not take advantage of the program. In fact, just over 30% of the kits sent out to Nova Scotian’s get returned each year. That means that as many as 70% of adults between 50 and 74 are not adequately screened from this insidious disease. As part of GUT’s mandate we created an awareness campaign three years ago. To date we have not moved the needle but we are not giving up.

In continued honour of ‘getting up there’ in memory of my dad, on Saturday night I will be heading for France to cycle the Beast of Provence, Mont Ventoux. You can read more about Mont Ventoux if you like, but trust me that it’s a real beast. It’s 22km at an average grade of over 7% climbing for a total ascent of 1600m. And if that’s not bad enough, the plan is to do it three times in one day.

They even have a club dedicated to this madness, Club Des Cingles Du Mont-Ventoux (the Crazy Club of Mont-Ventoux).

When my friends from London asked if I’d be interested in this, I was sitting on a bar stool at the base of Tremblant sipping on my second Bloody Ceasar before 11am on January 4th. Now, eight months later, 4000km stronger and 30 lbs lighter I’m sure I can get up once; hopeful, twice; and I’m praying that I can at least start the third ascent alive. Here is where you can help me. Over these past 10 years since my dad has been gone, one of my greatest fears is another person that I care about is knocked down by colon cancer. Please make sure that you are properly screened, speak with your doctor or even call me. If you are good, make sure all the loved ones around you are as well. And for God’s sake, if you or someone you know has one of those kits sitting by the bathroom sink, get it done! Knowing you are not part of that 70% of Nova Scotians (or wherever you live) still exposed just might be enough to get me to the top a third time.

Wish me Bon Chance & God’s Speed!




Learn more about Mont Ventoux.
Learn more about Get Up There.