INSPIRED by his mum’s battle with cancer, an Oxford researcher will be swapping microscopes for rowing oars to take part in one of the world’s oldest sporting events.
And Joshua Bugajski is urging others to join him to raise money for Cancer Research UK by taking part in The Great Row - a week before the official Oxford v Cambridge Boat Race.
The 26-year-old, who works in the labs at the charity's Oxford centre, will combine his two passions for a cause close to his heart as he takes one of eight prized seats.
Having watched a university friend battle with cervical cancer at 23-years-old, and seen his mum diagnosed with ovarian and breast cancer, Mr Bugajski is hoping his beloved Blues will take home the title
He said: “Doctors discovered my mum had a tumour the size of a football on her ovary.
“They removed it but mum went on to develop breast cancer during my first year here in Oxford and had to undergo more surgery and radiotherapy.
“Fortunately, she has recovered and is now in the clear but there is no doubt she has had it very tough and she is an inspiration to me."
Between the gruelling twice-daily training with his team mates to ensure they are in prime position to raise the coveted silverware, Mr Bugajski is leading a rallying call to Oxford supporters to get behind the team and get rowing themselves.
The Great Row is being held from March 25 until April 1 and competitors can go solo or complete the indoor rowing challenge as part of a team, rowing various distances.
Cancer Research UK has partnered with David Lloyd Clubs, giving anyone who takes on the challenge access to such clubs across the country on Friday, upon sign-up.
Mr Bugajski, who put his Tokyo 2020 Olympic dreams on hold to specialise in molecular targeted radiotherapy, said: “Cancer is something that affects so many people. It has become so prevalent as people now live longer."
He added: "It's not difficult to find motivation to go into that field and want to do your best to help the cause and I see every day just how important fundraising is to make it possible.”
The race, which raises money for Cancer Research, is on the Thames on Sunday, April 2.
For more information on taking part in The Great Row visit: cancerresearchuk.org/TheGreatRow