“But I can’t have blood cancer. I’ve been out running three times this week!”
The doctor shook her head. “You’re very ill and we need to get you into hospital as soon as we can”.
It was 2009 and it’s times like these when you feel very alone, vulnerable, frightened, not sure what to ask apart from, “Am I going to die?” I didn’t know what to do. I sat in my car outside the doctor’s surgery in a state of shock.
It had all started with a chance comment to a fellow runner. As we jogged along, I told her that I was waking up regularly soaked in sweat and joked that it was probably the male version of the menopause. However, she didn’t laugh, in fact she took it very seriously and told me I should go to the doctor at once. I’m a relatively intelligent person but, at that time, I actually thought chemotherapy simply meant I would be given some chemicals, I would then go bald and die. Yes, really!
However, after 6 doses of chemo, every few weeks, being looked after by the most amazing people (fantastic NHS just could not have been better), I was told I was “In Remission” and, even though
I would never be “cured”, that was the end of the treatment and I could go back to work and start my life normally again. So, back to the strains and stresses of teaching and strangely, I was a new man! I was living my life in technicolour, smiling more, enjoying things more and feeling really positive. I started collecting money for cancer charities through headstands in odd places, all over the world and I became known as the Headstand King. I was really pleased to get to £10K by standing upside down!
And then I heard of LEAF CHARITY. I looked at the website and realised this was something that would have been so helpful to me when I was diagnosed. When you meet Natasha, you realise that she is an inspirational character, able to make everything sound more positive. If I had known of this charity when I was diagnosed, I know that Natasha could have answered my questions, she would have understood my reactions and my worries, she could have given me advice and guidance. I was lucky; I got through the treatment through the support of my family and I had sick-pay and some health insurance – but what about people who don’t have that? What about children who are diagnosed with blood cancer? I realised that this was an amazing, and vital, charity that did so much for cancer sufferers AND their families who needed advice, support and sometimes financial assistance. I knew this was where I should put my efforts and so “The Headstandking” (yes, I’m on Youtube!”) came out of retirement to perform more headstands for cash as well as a Wing Walk, parachute jump and forward-facing Abseil to raise money and awareness of Leaf Charity.
Now, in 2022, 13 years into remission, I am “fit as a dog” running 5 miles every 2 days. When people ask me why I run so fast at the age of 64, I tell the above story and hope they are, one day, able to give a positive message to someone who has been diagnosed with blood cancer. There IS a good chance of life after chemotherapy and there IS the most amazing charity that will help in those dark days.
But, as with all charities, Natasha and LEAF CHARITY need YOUR HELP in order to give best support to the people who really need it.