Fundraising super hero The Big Pink Dress reveals he had cancer operation just days before starting Sunderland 10k and half marathon events
Courageous fundraiser Colin Burgin-Plews has returned to the public gaze – less than a week after an operation for skin cancer.
The man known as The Big Pink Dress was at the start of the Sunderland City Runs at the weekend, just days after having a mole removed on the back of his leg at the top of his thigh.
It was only last Monday that he went through an operation to remove the mole which left him with 16 stitches and a four-inch scar, and with experts telling him he needs to be checked every three months for skin cancer.
He has been told to ‘take it easy’ but he reassured his fans that he will keep backing important causes, even if it will be more cautiously in the future.
"My family has to come first,” said the South Shields fundraiser, 52, who has amassed £144,000 for charity since he first started fundraising.
"I shall always do something but it has come to the point where my health must be a priority.”
He lost his mum Pat Walker, aged 76, this year after a year-long battle with cancer.
And in July 2019, Colin was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital after suffering a problem with a valve in his heart and high blood pressure.
He had a scan and now has to take tablets to control the problem for the rest of his life. Amazingly, he recovered sufficiently to do the Great North Run that same year.
This time, after his cancer operation, he returned once more to be at the start of the Sunderland City Runs where he supported the event although he couldn’t run.
"I love to be a part of these events,” said Colin, who also hopes to recover enough fitness to still do the Great North Run in September, if it goes ahead.
“I can’t do a marathon so I am on a 12-week deadline to getting back to fitness for the GNR. If it goes ahead, then I will definitely be there. If my body lets me, I will do it.
Colin contacted his GP after becoming concerned with the appearance of a mole on the front of his leg in early April and was referred to the Royal Victoria Infirmary.
Doctors reassured Colin that the area in question was fine but said they wanted to check out another mole on the back of his thigh. A biopsy was carried out, and days later, Colin received a call to say it was skin cancer.
Doctors are hopeful they completely cleared the cancer. Colin said: “I have a scar that is 10cms long. I have to go back every three months to get it checked but they caught it really early and I am really pleased.”
But the diagnosis and his heart problems gave Colin a scare. He admitted: “Perhaps I have to take it a bit slower. As much as I love raising money, I can’t put my health at risk to raise money. My family comes first.”
Colin also urged others to make sure they get checked out if they suspect they may have a health issue.
"It is really important to get checked out. Don’t leave anything without getting it checked out,” he said.