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Cancer survivor to row 150 miles down River Thames for charity

PUBLISHED: 12:00 04 September 2014 | UPDATED: 12:00 04 September 2014

L-R: Robbie Coleman, Roger Spencer, Dan Bartlett and Chris Spencer

L-R: Robbie Coleman, Roger Spencer, Dan Bartlett and Chris Spencer

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A 48-year-old cancer survivor says it is now “payback time” as he prepares to embark on a gruelling 150 mile row down the River Thames to raise awareness of the disease.

Chris Spencer, 48, of Abridge, Epping Forest, sets out on his three and a half day row on Thursday from Gloucestershire, his final miles will be from Richmond where he will be accompanied by an small armada of boats as he finishes his challenge at the Poplar Blackwall & District Rowing Club.

Mr Spencer, who had two life-saving bone marrow transplants, will be met by 45 colleagues from leisure operator Everyone Active - for whom he works for - at the end of his row.

His colleagues will cycle the same distance but over three days from Cirencester in Oxfordshire.

“The charity Anthony Nolan saved my life and, basically, it’s payback time,” he said who is back at work as general manager of the Everyone Active Hornchurch Sport Centre in Hornchurch Road.

He was able to have surgery just months after contracting bone marrow failure in September.

He admits he was fortunate to find a donor as quickly as he did.

“It is not all about raising funds - it is about raising awareness for more donors,” added Mr Spencer, who originally contracted cancer in 1997. “Today there is a greater understanding of the disease and a far better survival rate, provided people can find a suitable donor.”

Mr Spencer also added: “I’m hoping that my effort will be noticed.

“Even if my marathon row only encourages one donor to sign up and one life to be saved, the effort will be worth it.

“But I sincerely hope a lot more donors will step forward and many more lives will be saved.”

Mr Spencer added he was “humbled” by the efforts of friends, family and his work colleagues.

To donate, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Greatthamesrow

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