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Matthew Lynch of Royal Chase, Tunbridge Wells grows a beard in aid of Bowel Cancer UK after being diagnosed at the age of 34

A Tunbridge Wells father-of-two diagnosed with bowel cancer is encouraging men to put down the razor and grow a beard this Christmas.

Matthew Lynch was admitted for an emergency operation in October after suffering from a number of symptoms including regular stomach pains and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

He was diagnosed with bowel cancer and placed on a six month chemotherapy programme.

Matthew before the beard growing began
Matthew before the beard growing began

The 34-year-old of Royal Chase said he suffered from IBS for years and still does to this day so doctors can't say whether it is related to the cancer.

He is now growing a beard in a bid to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK's "Decembeard" campaign.

Mr Lynch who lives with wife Annie, and children William, 6 and Amelia, 3 said: "I am not really sure why I have chosen growing a beard as my first fundraising attempt. I am not a hairy person and given I am just starting chemo, things could be patchy.

"Over the past few weeks, I have received amazing support from my family, but there has also been a wealth of information and backup from a number of charities.

"Bowel Cancer UK is one of those charities and I hope to raise a little money to help them to continue to raise awareness."

Matthew with Amelia and William
Matthew with Amelia and William

The bank worker also wants to raise awareness of the symptoms of bowel cancer in a bid to help others.

He said: "If I had known about the symptoms of bowel cancer beforehand maybe I would have known what was going on.

"If I had known about the symptoms of bowel cancer beforehand maybe I would have known what was going on" - Matthew Lynch

"It's quite difficult to talk about, it was such a shock to be diagnosed at such a young age. It was a shock for doctors too, it's no fault of theirs for not diagnosing it, they have statistics to go by but I think it may be something they should consider in the back of their minds.

"I wish I had a colonoscopy when I complained about IBS before."

Through his beard growing efforts, Mr Lynch has raised £3,860 for Bowel Cancer UK so far.

"I'm not sure whether Annie minds the beard at the moment, but I don't think she'd be very happy if it became permanent. I encourage all of you that have ever felt the urge but not had the excuse to join me," he added.

For more information on the symptoms of bowel cancer visit: www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/decembeard

To donate visit: https://www.justgiving.com/Matthew-Lynch18/

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