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Colchester man diagnosed with rare cancer finishes epic military run for charity


Date: Thursday 28th October 2021

Colchester father-of-three, diagnosed with rare cancer, defies the odds to finish epic 10-mile military charity run 24 hours after final radiotherapy treatment

Just seven months after being diagnosed with a rare and devastating liver cancer, cholangiocarcinoma, Colchester resident and 38-year-old father-of-three, Laurence Oakley-Ward, or ‘Laf' as he is affectionately known by family and friends, has defied the odds by successfully competing in, and finishing, the gruelling PARAS'10 10-mile endurance run for charity on Saturday 2nd October.

However, what makes his crossing PARAS'10 finish line all the more impressive is that just 24 hours before, Laf had received his final radiotherapy treatment for his cancer at University College Hospital, London (UCLH).

Laurence's fundraising effort has smashed his initial target of £500, having now raised well over a thousand pounds (including Gift Aid), and still collecting, forAMMF, the UK's first and only cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) charity.

The long road to diagnosis and treatment

Laf crossing that finish line was far from an easy journey. It followed hard on the heels of 13 months of exhausting hospital visits and tests, including endoscopies, colonoscopies, and numerous blood tests and difficult treatments, which began in September 2020 at Colchester Hospital in Essex where he was first admitted after going to A&E after feeling unwell at his daughter's eighth birthday party. The results of tests carried out by A&E staff immediately required Laf to be put on a drip and taken to a ward, where he remained for eight days for further detailed examination by specialists. In December, he was told he might require surgery, and possibly even a liver transplant.  And then, in March 2021, some seven months later, Laf received his cancer diagnosis.

Frightened at the prospect of what might lie ahead, just one week later, the situation then took a more positive note: Laf was contacted by world renowned cholangiocarcinoma specialists, Professor John Bridgewater and later by Professor Maria Hawkins, both of whom are based at UCLH. Under their expert care Laf started an intensive treatment plan involving chemotherapyand radiotherapy. 

As Laf says, "My cholangiocarcinoma diagnosis came as a real shock, but I was going to fight it all the way! And I couldn't have had better expert care than that of Professor Bridgewater and Professor Hawkins, who not only moved quickly to put me on the right treatment pathway but gave me a more hopeful outlook. It's thanks to them that I am here today and had the confidence to take part in my second PARAS'10 race, and plan on running my third in May 2022. It not only gave me something positive to focus on, but I also wanted to raise as much awareness as possible about this little-known cancer and fundraise for AMMF, the UK's only cholangiocarcinoma charity. The future is already looking far brighter."

Helen Morement, CEO, AMMF comments, "Laurence's inspirational fundraising endeavour in aid of AMMF is nothing short of remarkable, especially when you hear that it was done the day after his final radiotherapy treatment. He really has shown incredible courage, and not only raised much-needed funds for AMMF, but awareness of the devastating but little-known cancer, cholangiocarcinoma."

Helen adds," The incidence of cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer) appears to be increasing across all age groups, including younger people, so there is an urgent need for research to find the causes of this disease so we can develop better diagnostic tests and more effective treatments. We are enormously grateful to Laurence for his invaluable support which will help AMMF continue its vital work."

To donate to Laf's fundraising effort for AMMF, please visit his Virgin Money Giving page link: -


Contact: Esther Porta at AMMF on +44 (0) 20 7351 7374 or +44 (0)7870 439 158


AMMF was founded and registered as a charity with the Charity Commission in 2002 (registered charity no 1091915). AMMF is the UK's only cholangiocarcinoma charity, dedicated to tackling this devastating cancer on all fronts: providing information and support, campaigning to raise awareness, and encouraging and supporting research.

In recent years, an enormous and extremely worrying worldwide increase in cholangiocarcinoma's incidence has been noted. In 2017, cholangiocarcinoma was the cause of death of 2,523 people in England alone1.The incidence appears to be increasing across all age groups, including younger people, and the cause of this ongoing increase is unknown. Much more research is desperately needed.

AMMF is dedicated to bringing about improvement for the cholangiocarcinoma patient, working closely throughout the UK with patients, families, carers, clinicians, healthcare professionals, researchers, politicians, and policy makers, and collaborating internationally. For more information, visit: (registered charity no 1091915).


1Genus T, et al. Poster presentation at EASL ILC 2020; Poster THU-508