A former Tottington High School pupil is hoping to inspire people to stand up against cancer.

Mitchell Gowing, 28, who joined the police after his studies,  says he owes his life to improved cancer treatments and has shared his story as part of a Stand Up To Cancer campaign.

Last year, Mitch, who lives in Tottington, was being treated for gastric issues by his GP after experiencing stomach problems for months.

However, between last September and December he lost three stone in weight and was eventually sent for a scan of his stomach at the start of this year.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing celebrating birthday in hospital

The Greater Manchester Police dispatch officer woke following a shift at work on the same day of the scan and one entire side of his face had dropped.

Mitch said his family were worried he might have had a stroke but a brain scan showed the all clear.

Not satisfied, his parents Andrea and Neil pushed for the result of the stomach scan which was not due back for weeks, and it revealed a huge tumour in Mitch’s stomach.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing pre diagnosis

Mitch, who was 27 at the time, was immediately transferred to the Royal Oldham Hospital which became his home for the following six months.

Following a full week of extensive tests, Mitch was diagnosed with an aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL).

He said: “It was a huge shock to be diagnosed with cancer when I am so young.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing during treatment

“Cancer can affect anyone’s life, at any time, so we really have no choice other than to unite against it and help support the scientists to keep making new discoveries.”

A consultant suggested the drop in Mitch’s face could have been caused by the pressure of the tumour in the stomach pressing on other nerve endings around the body.

After his diagnosis, he was immediately placed on a chemotherapy course called R-CHOP, a drug combination including rituximab and cyclophosphamide which Cancer Research UK  worked on and helped to develop.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing and girlfriend Lucy Gale

Mitch had a lumbar injection in his spine as an extra precaution in case the cancer had already spread.

Doctors at the time said that he was at such a high risk of infection that his family adopted covid measures once again and isolated completely to ensure they remained bug free to be able to visit him daily.

As a result of the chemotherapy Mitch’s hair, eyebrows and beard fall out.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing during treatment

He was allowed home for two weeks over Easter and was then back in hospital continuing to receive chemotherapy until the end of May when his medical team declared Mitch was cancer free.

Following the treatment at Oldham, Mitch was admitted to Manchester Royal Infirmary for a bone marrow transplant which involved more chemotherapy, injections and stem cell harvesting via a dialysis machine. 

The stem cells replaced cells damaged by the chemotherapy to help Mitch’s immune system recover.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing and dad Neil sister Ella and mum Andrea

In August, Mitch completed all treatment, he is now recovering before returning to work in a few months’ time.

He will need to build up his strength and fitness as well as having all childhood jabs once again as his previous immunity was wiped out.

His younger sister Ella and his girlfriend Lucy raised more than £5000 for Cancer Research UK after taking part in Pretty Muddy at Heaton Park in July.

Mitch said: “Success stories like mine would not be possible without research into better and kinder treatments.

Bury Times: Mitch Gowing rings the end of treatment bell

“That’s why I’m lending my support to this vitally important campaign. Now is the moment for everyone across the Northwest to Stand Up To Cancer.”

The Stand Up To Cancer campaign will continue throughout October, with a collection of special programming airing on Channel 4 later in the month and culminating in a night of live television on Friday, November 3. 

Cancer Research UK spokesperson for the North West, Jane Bullock, said: “Thanks to our supporters, our researchers are working tirelessly to help more people like Mitch survive - from developing a molecule to super-charge the immune system to attack tumours, to re-programming viruses to seek and destroy cancer cells. 

“But we must go further and faster.

“One-in-two of us will get cancer in our lifetime. All of us can help beat it. That’s why we’re asking everyone to Stand Up To Cancer with us.

“Whether it’s choosing to donate, fundraise, or tackle the ups and downs of our squats challenge, if thousands of us take a stand we’ll speed up the progress of vital research – meaning more people live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer.”