Black belt in karate is kicking cancer with over 100 doses of chemo

After being diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2018, Austin Birks, began a treatment journey which has seen him have over 100 doses of chemotherapy.

Austin Birks, aged 63, has undergone two life-saving surgeries, with the latter lasting 5 and a half hours and required 64 stitches. Despite being given the all clear on two occasions, unfortunately his cancer returned in October 2021 and since then Austin has been receiving regular chemotherapy at Warwick and Stratford Hospitals.

Despite his life-changing diagnosis, Austin has been living his life to the fullest and even embarked on a new hobby in stand-up comedy, performing at the iconic Glee club in Birmingham twice to 400 people and raising £13,000 for Cancer research UK.

Not letting cancer or chemotherapy stop him, Austin also achieved his 6th black belt in Shotokan Karate in September 2020 during lockdown. This involved a challenging physical examination. After over a hundred chemotherapy sessions, Austin continues to train every day and is a Shotokan Karate instructor, running his own club.

Keen to share with others experiencing cancer and undergoing chemotherapy that you can still thrive and live life to the fullest, Austin started writing blogs about his journey, focussed on living with cancer and a stoma bag. The honest but light hearted blog was selected by an independent panel as being number 10, in the top 15 UK blogs about cancer. Following the success of his blog, he is now creating a book which he hopes to be published later this year.

Talking about his experience, Austin said: “I would not be alive today without the amazing support that I have received from the fantastic teams at Stratford and Warwick Hospitals. From cleaner to consultant I have received the best possible care, which has enabled me to use my cancer diagnosis as a positive motivation to achieve new things in life.”

Zoe O’Neill, Nurse Consultant at South Warwickshire University NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is meeting people like Austin that make my job worthwhile. It has been incredibly humbling to support him along this journey. The way that he has opened up and shared his experiences will have helped many other cancer patients and their families. Austin really is inspirational and feel very privileged to have looked after him.”

Throughout his journey Austin has continued his position as Chief Executive for an international company, as well as roles in Non-Executive and voluntary positions.

To read Austin’s blog, please visit:

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