South Warwickshire hospitals help black belt kick cancer - The Leamington Observer

South Warwickshire hospitals help black belt kick cancer

Leamington Editorial 29th Mar, 2024   0

A BLACK belt in karate is kicking cancer thanks to the treatment received at two south Warwickshire hospitals.

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018, Austin Birks began a treatment journey which has seen him have over 100 doses of chemotherapy.

The 63-year-old has undergone two life-saving surgeries, with the latter lasting five and a half hours and requiring 64 stitches. But despite being given the all clear on two occasions, his cancer returned in October 2021 and since then Austin has been receiving regular chemotherapy at Warwick and Stratford Hospitals.

Austin has been living his life to the fullest despite his life-changing diagnosis, even embarking on a new hobby in stand-up comedy, performing at the iconic Glee club in Birmingham twice to 400 people and raising £13,000 for Cancer Research UK.




He also achieved his sixth black belt in Shotokan Karate in September 2020 during lockdown. This involved a challenging physical examination. After over a hundred chemotherapy sessions, Austin continues to train every day and is a Shotokan Karate instructor, running his own club.

Keen to share with others experiencing cancer and undergoing chemotherapy that you can still thrive and live life to the fullest, Austin started writing blogs about his journey, focused on living with cancer and a stoma bag. The honest but light hearted blog was selected by an independent panel as being number ten in the top 15 UK blogs about cancer.


Following the success of his blog, he is now creating a book which he hopes to be published later this year.

Austin said: “I would not be alive today without the amazing support that I have received from the fantastic teams at Stratford and Warwick Hospitals. From cleaner to consultant I have received the best possible care, which has enabled me to use my cancer diagnosis as a positive motivation to achieve new things in life.”

Zoe O’Neill, nurse consultant at South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, added: “It is meeting people like Austin that make my job worthwhile. It has been incredibly humbling to support him along this journey. The way that he has opened up and shared his experiences will have helped many other cancer patients and their families. Austin really is inspirational and I feel very privileged to have looked after him.”

To read Austin’s blog visit www.thebagforlife.co.uk

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