'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
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'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.
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.
• To book your cervical screenings ring your registered GP surgery.