IT wasn’t quite the London Marathon, but my journey to the start of last week’s Cancer Research UK’s ‘The Extra Mile’ run for MPs was a long one. Since my election as an MP last May, I have focused a lot of time on campaigning on the issue of cancer drugs and supporting cancer charities.

My Private Members Bill, the Off-Patent Drugs Bill, aimed to make certain types of drugs more readily available to people fighting cancer, MS and Parkinson’s.

My Bill was ‘talked out’ at the end of last year, but I didn’t give up. I’m pleased to say that many of the measures in the Bill were made law this month, after I worked with other MPs to add extra clauses into the Access to Medical Treatments (Innovation) Bill.

My work on this, and my involvement with charities like Breast Cancer Now and Pancreatic Cancer UK have now got me hooked, so I agreed to run for Cancer Research UK in ‘The Extra Mile’ to publicise the great work that the charity does.

I can understand the nerves of all those Gwent men and women running in London over the weekend, because although my run was much shorter, I lined up alongside fellow MP and former Parachute Regiment member Dan Jarvis. Quite some competition.

He certainly disappeared into the distance pretty quickly when the starting gun fired! Getting active can significantly reduce your risk of cancer, but taking those first steps can be daunting. With 3,500 cancer cases in Torfaen every year, I am keen to help raise awareness and funds.

It was also good to meet with fantastic local campaigner Linda Reardon in Parliament recently, at the launch of Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Patient’s Charter. Early diagnosis is still a great challenge, as the symptoms can be hard to spot. 45 per cent of patients are diagnosed via A&E, more than twice the number for other forms of cancer.

Pancreatic Cancer UK’s Charter is an essential guide, clearly detailing the care and support that every patient and their family should expect. The charity’s aim is that every patient will be given a copy on diagnosis to help them at a difficult time.

This month is also Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, so I supported a call by leading research charity Bowel Cancer UK, urging more people in to take part in screening. Bowel cancer screening saves lives, but in Torfaen only 52 per cent of people who are eligible actually take part in screening.

Thousands of people are missing out on the chance to detect bowel cancer early, when it is easier to treat. I would urge my constituents who are sent a bowel screening test to use it. Early diagnosis really can save lives.