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'It can be life or death' - Norwich man honours late wife with 3,500 mile walk for cervical cancer

PUBLISHED: 16:57 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:57 24 April 2019

Laurence Carter has been joined by friends on his journey around the UK and raised almost £60,000 so far. Pictured, from left, Lisa Daniel, Laurence Carter, Melissa Daniel, and Tim Daniel. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Laurence Carter has been joined by friends on his journey around the UK and raised almost £60,000 so far. Pictured, from left, Lisa Daniel, Laurence Carter, Melissa Daniel, and Tim Daniel. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

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A Norwich man who lost his wife to cervical cancer is completing a year-long 3,500 mile walk around the English coastline to raise awareness of the disease.

Laurence Carter, who lost his wife Melitta to cervical cancer in 2015, is raising awareness of the disease. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesLaurence Carter, who lost his wife Melitta to cervical cancer in 2015, is raising awareness of the disease. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Laurence Carter's wife Melitta was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2012 - after a busy family life meant she'd left her smear test just six months late.

The volunteer and mother-of-three underwent an emergency hysterectomy, radiation and chemotherapy, but the aggressive illness had spread and she died in 2015, aged just 53.

And now her husband has embarked on a mission to raise awareness of the lifesaving preventative measures available to fight the disease in her memory.

“The real purpose is to raise awareness that no woman needs to die through cervical cancer, as it's the one cancer we can eliminate,” Mr Carter said.

Melitta Carter died aged 53 from cervical cancer in 2015. Photo: Submitted by Laurence CarterMelitta Carter died aged 53 from cervical cancer in 2015. Photo: Submitted by Laurence Carter

“We can protect young women through the HPV vaccine and older women through regular cervical check ups.

“It can be the difference between life and death.”

READ MORE: Number of cervical cancer screenings is falling - it's time to break the stigma

Mr Carter, who grew up in Brundall and went to school in Thorpe St. Andrew, began his walk in June 2017, at Seaford, near Brighton, and the trek has seen him trace the outlines of Cornwall, Devon, and Wales, and across Hadrian's Wall, before walking the east coast through Lincolnshire to Norfolk.

Laurence Carter's journey will end on June 23 in Seaford, Brighton. Pictured, from left, Lisa Daniel, Tim Daniel, Laurence Carter, and Melissa Daniel. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesLaurence Carter's journey will end on June 23 in Seaford, Brighton. Pictured, from left, Lisa Daniel, Tim Daniel, Laurence Carter, and Melissa Daniel. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

The 58-year-old who took a leave of absence from his job as a director at the World Bank, based in Washington DC, said: “I wanted to do something that would honour her memory.

“Melitta's philosophy was wanting to leave the world better than when she arrived. She cared about the environment and wanted to make a difference.

“When I turned 50 my wife reminded me to go and get my prostate checked.

“It never once crossed my mind to remind her - and that's really why I'm walking.”

Laurence Carter, second from right, is walking round England and Wales to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Pictured, from left, friends Tim Daniel and Lisa Daniel, and their daughter Melissa, right. Photo: Jessica Frank-KeyesLaurence Carter, second from right, is walking round England and Wales to raise awareness of cervical cancer. Pictured, from left, friends Tim Daniel and Lisa Daniel, and their daughter Melissa, right. Photo: Jessica Frank-Keyes

Mr Carter has raised almost £60,000 so far, but he is aiming for a total of £200,000 before his walk ends back in Brighton, on June 23.

The funds will go to Cancer Research UK for research by behavioural health scientist, Dr Jo Waller, at University College London, into cervical screening uptake and reminders.

“If this helps just one woman, I'll be happy,” he added.

For more information about the project, or to donate, visit Mr Carter's website.

Melitta Carter, centre, with children Emily, Nicolas and Georgie. Photo: Submitted by Laurence CarterMelitta Carter, centre, with children Emily, Nicolas and Georgie. Photo: Submitted by Laurence Carter

• To book your cervical screenings ring your registered GP surgery.

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