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CLUB: Cancer survivors support Race for Life

Join Geoff at Cancer Research's Race for Life at Bitts Park in July

12 June 2023

When Carlisle United coach Geoff Haugh faced a cancer diagnosis last August he knew exactly who to turn to for support.

Geoff was able to rely on the club’s manager, Paul Simpson, and head of recruitment, Greg Abbott, to help him through the journey. Both Greg and Paul have been successfully treated for cancer.

The three men are now urging Cumbrians to sign-up for Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life events on Sunday July 30 at Carlisle’s Bitts Park.


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Geoff, who has made a good recovery following treatment, will be pulling on his trainers and tackling the 5k route.

And you can sponsor him as he takes part for this fantastic cause over on his JustGiving page HERE.

The 63-year-old is well known at the club for always having kept fit and having never smoked or drank.

When Geoff had a swollen testicle last summer he assumed it was nothing serious. He was initially prescribed antibiotics. But after a further examination, Geoff was advised the testicle needed to be removed. Following surgery, tests on the tissue from the testicle revealed he had two different types of cancer – one of which was aggressive.

Geoff faced a course of chemotherapy treatment at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital. While the cancer diagnosis was a big shock, his children, wife Sarah-Louise and colleagues at the club rallied round. Geoff recovered well from the treatment missing hardly any time from the job he loves.

Geoff was able to turn to his friends and colleagues Paul Simpson and Greg Abbott for support as they have both had their own cancer experiences.

Geoff said: “My experience shows absolutely anyone can face a cancer diagnosis as I was fit and well and have always looked after myself. Paul and Greg have been there for me every step of the way because they understand how I feel. At times, it’s almost as though we have a silent camaraderie and we don’t need to say anything to one another.

“It’s thanks to advances in research and treatments that I’m here and can enjoy time with my family and friends. 

“I’m not sure I will be able to run my way around the Race for Life course as I might be jogging and walking part of the way, but I’ll certainly enjoy playing my part to fund research today which I hope will also help beat cancer for future generations.” 

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Carlisle United manager Paul Simpson was diagnosed with kidney cancer in 2021. The 56-year-old had experienced a dry cough for about 18 months. But he was generally feeling fit and well. A routine health check that summer was followed by a CT scan as the doctor was initially worried Paul may have a problem with his lungs which was causing the cough. The dad-of-three, who is married to Jacqui, was gobsmacked to be diagnosed with cancer. He underwent robotic surgery at The Christie hospital in Manchester to have his left kidney removed and feels fortunate that he needed no other follow-up treatment.

Paul said: “The cancer diagnosis was a big shock as I didn’t feel unwell. But I put my total trust in the expertise of the doctors and knew from day one that I was determined to be a good news story. It’s vital that the Carlisle United community supports Race for Life as so many of us at the club have a cancer experience.”


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Greg Abbott, head of recruitment at Carlisle United, has experienced a difficult five years following a cancer diagnosis in 2018. Greg, aged 59, had been suffering headaches and feeling exhausted. He saw his GP and had a check-up including a PSA test which helps to detect prostate cancer. The PSA reading was off the scale and a biopsy showed Greg had prostate cancer.

Greg faced six and a half hours of surgery to remove the cancer and the prostate gland. But complications led to the nerve endings close to his bladder being damaged. Greg initially wore a catheter for nine weeks. He then endured five years of being incontinent which he describes as “debilitating”. Due to the covid pandemic, Greg’s corrective surgery was delayed and only happened in January of this year. He has been fitted with an artificial urinal sphincter which means he is no longer incontinent. Greg, who has three children, five grand-children and lives with his partner Sally, feels his life has been entirely transformed.

Greg said: “I just assumed the stress of my job at the time was causing me to wake up every day with a headache. So, the cancer diagnosis was a bolt from the blue and it was tough telling my family and friends the news. I was unlucky following the surgery, but I never wanted sympathy or sorrow. The last five years have been horrendous having to wear incontinence pads at my age and particularly in such an active and busy job, but following the surgery in January, I am now an entirely different person and back to my old self. We all need to support Race for Life because Paul, Geoff and I myself don’t want anyone in the future to go through what we have.”

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with headline sponsor Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, is an inspiring series of 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research. This is the 30th year of Race for Life and participants will receive a special medal to mark the milestone.  

Every year around 43,600 people are diagnosed with cancer in the North West** and one in two people in the UK born after 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime.***   Money raised at Race for Life enables scientists to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer - helping to save more lives. 


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Cancer Research UK’s spokesperson in Cumbria, Jane Bullock, said: “We are incredibly grateful to Geoff, Paul and Greg and everyone at Carlisle United for supporting Race for Life.

“We’d love for as many people as possible to join us at Bitts Park on Sunday July 30 during our 30th year of Race for Life. Sadly, cancer affects all of us in some way. Whether people are living with cancer, taking part in honour of or in memory of a loved one with cancer, or signing up to protect their own children’s future, everyone has a reason to Race for Life. Together we can bring about a future free from the fear of cancer. So we’re asking people across the region: Who will you Race for? 

“Our Race for Life events are open to all. For some people, Race for Life is literally a walk in the park. Slow and steady still wins. For others, it’s a jog. Others may opt to push themselves harder, taking up the challenge of the 10K distance. But what’s for certain is we’re looking forward to welcoming people of all ages and abilities.” 

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life raises funds for world-class research to help beat 200 types of cancer - including bowel cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, children’s cancers and leukaemia.  

Chief executive of sponsor Standard Life, Andy Curran, said: “We are extremely proud to have been chosen as the headline sponsor of Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life. This sponsorship will help encourage participation and raise funds for life-saving research to help beat cancer.” 

To enter, visit   

About Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life     

  • Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with headline sponsor Standard Life, is an inspiring series of 3k, 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding life-saving research.      
  • Money raised through Race for Life events funds world-class research to help beat 200 types of cancer. including bowel cancer, prostate cancer, lung cancer, testicular cancer, brain cancer, children’s cancers and leukaemia.      
  • Race for Life has raised over £940m towards life-saving research since it began 30 years ago. 
  • More than 10m participants have taken part in Race for Life events since 1994, fundraising for Cancer Research UK   
  • Find out more and sign up at org     

About Cancer Research UK  

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research, influence and information.  
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.   
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.   
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK wants to accelerate progress and see 3 in 4 people surviving their cancer by 2034.  
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into the prevention and treatment of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.  
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK is working towards a world where people can live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.  

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.  

About Standard Life    

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after people’s life savings for nearly 200 years    
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers’ pension scheme   
  • Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We’re proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together   
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people’s needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We’re proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options   
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs and plan a future they feel confident about.  

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