We’ve never been to a ball before, getting all dressed up and looking like a penguin, never appealed to me, and my wife Sonia wearing a dress that she sweeps the floor with as she goes about the evening, no thanks, you can keep all that posh malarkey. Track suit bottoms and slouching on the sofa, now that’s more like it. But this was different, this was the ‘Clowns in the Sky’ Winter Ball. Clowns in the Sky is a charity I have been fund raising for them for a few years now. I worked with the owner of the charity, Richard, and was heart broken to hear of the death of his daughter, but Richard and his wife, Lyn, set up this charity in her memory, and it’s gone from strength to strength, and now supports children in hospitals having treatment for brain tumours across the country. They make a donation to Brain Tumour Research, in the hope of finding a cure or better treatments, there’s so many things they do to help children get through their treatment, have a look here to find out more.
Each year they organise a Winter Ball, a lovely evening of a meal, magicians coming to your table, a singer, an auction, raffle, and finishing with few hours of dancing, and as much donating as you can. I was aware of this Ball a couple of years ago but didn’t take a lot of notice of it, then last year I saw it on Facebook, but left it too late and it was sold out, so this year I made a definite effort to get some tickets for me and my family, it was just a question of who was going to dress up and come with us now. There’s eight adults and six children in our family, so baby sitters would be required, as it’s not really a place for kids. So I messaged Donna and asked for at least four tickets and possibly eight. The tickets become available around September October time, but do sell out by November, so I’d got in this year, but just had to confirm the numbers. We ordered four tickets, but soon ordered four more, as we knew we had several people who would like to go if family members couldn’t. Now it was time to order the food, it was only a choice of meat or vegetarian, so we chose half and half, covering all bases, anyone last minute would be able to have what they wanted as some of us were quite flexible. Tickets booked, food ordered, now it was who was going to go. One couldn’t get a babysitter, another recently split with his partner and was a maybe, so it was Sonia and me, our favourite daughter Lib and her husband Chris, possibly our son Davey, now for three more. My Mum has always liked the dressing up and going out, so we invited her and got a very swift reply of “Yes please,” now for the last two, and the Ball is getting quite close now, just a few weeks away. So I asked my brother and his wife Jan, and they were up for it, so it was the eight of us. Now for the penguin outfits and sweep as you go dresses.
Eventually got all sorted out and it ended up with seven of us meeting up at the Ball, and even if I do say so myself, I think we looked very smart. My suit cost ten pounds, from a charity shop, got it dry cleaned for twelve pounds and got a shirt and bow tie for fifty pounds. I felt very pleased with myself getting a suit so cheap, and it was a nice one. But as time got on we had to just go and get a decent shirt from a proper shop. It all started very economically, but that soon went out of the window. As we settled at are table, we had one at the back, but were quite close to Tony Cottee and Tony Gale. Who are they? I hear you ask, they’re only part of the West Ham team that finished 3rd in the league, in the 85-86 season, the year I started supporting West Ham, they’ve never been the same since, sorry. We all had a great time, the food was lovely, we had a magician at our table astounding us with his tricks, no idea how he did them. There was an auction and my brother Gwyn got a drawing of four past England cricket captains, signed, and he won a game of golf with Tony Cottee and Tony Gale, I will be his caddie that day, I’ve no idea what I’m suppose to do but really looking forward to it. There was a raffle, a singer and then at the end of the night, dancing. All in all it was a great night and very pleased to say Clowns in the Sky raised roughly five and a half thousand pounds, that’s brilliant for just a small charity, they can now do so much with that and help children with brain tumours, brilliant.
As I said in an earlier post, we’re looking after our three year old grand son, having had four children we thought it would be easy, as we know what we’re doing, but boy is he tiring, we put him down for bed and if we don’t fall asleep on the sofa, we’re not far off going to bed ourselves. But it is nice having him here, he was at nursery five days a week for six hours but now hes off for over two weeks, if we survive, we’ll see you in the new year. Hopefully I’ll get some posts done, if he falls asleep for a few hours in the afternoon. We did have some good news this week, my wife Sonia had been for a ultra sound scan and they found a mass on her liver, but after a CT scan this week, we got the news that it was benign so nothing to worry about, and we have an appointment with a liver specialist at the next available time, May next year, good job it’s not urgent. Take care, have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year, I’ll repeat that if I get to blog again this year, thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, and always 100% positive.
Saturday 21st September 2019, and today is the big day of Swim Serpentine, I’ve been looking forward to this for two years now, a little hiccup last year preventing me from taking part, so I can’t wait to get in, and start swimming in the lovely cold refreshing water of Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park, London. I say hiccup, but I suppose getting terminal lung cancer is a bit more than a hiccup, but that’s how I looked at it, it’s easy to say hiccup now, but twelve months ago I wasn’t looking at it quite like that, but I wasn’t scared of it either, as I really didn’t feel ill by it and certainly didn’t feel like it was about to kill me, so I just took it one day at a time, and had to put most of my life on hold for a while, but whatever, I was going to get through this, alive!
Training for this event has been slow due to illness this year, but I’ve had a few really good swims in the local pool, so I’m really pleased with that and feeling ready for it. In July I hurt my rib, or sprained a muscle on or next to one of my ribs, which was quite painful at times. I was doing some deep breathing exercises, and as I finished I could just feel a little discomfort in my ribs as I breathed in fully, so I wasn’t too concerned with this. Two weeks later I ran the London 10k, and a constant pain in my side during the latter stages of this run, I put that down to a stitch, and thought no more of it, but later that day it was becoming quite uncomfortable to get up from a chair or moving around in bed, and had sprained the muscle again, but it’s quite hard not to use that muscle when moving around, so more running or swimming was out, for now anyway. A few weeks later and my side is almost fully better now, and as we were out one day having a little walk, I sneezed, and yep, sprained the same muscle again. A few more weeks after this and it’s nearly better again, during a bit of diy, I’m putting the telly on the wall, as I’m lifting the tv onto the fitting I’ve just attached to the wall, I’d thought this new tv we got a few years ago was quite light, but when your struggling on your own to get both sides onto the new fitting and only one side wants to go on, you realise that actually, it’s not as light as you thought it was, and is becoming quite heavy now. And yes I’ve sprained the same muscle again, and it’s quite painful, I’m not having much luck with this muscle, and starting to get a little concerned, as my swim is coming up and I want to get a few good swims in before it, I need this swim, I can’t miss it again.
I managed to get in the pool a week before my swim, and I tentatively got in the water almost praying my side wouldn’t hurt, and what a huge relief it didn’t, it was almost better now, I just didn’t want the swimming to aggravate it. I got a mile in that day, two lengths front crawl and then two breast stroke for sixty four lengths, so happy and relieved at the same time. I got another mile in on the Tuesday before, and just did breast stroke that day, as I knew that’s what I’ll be doing in the Serpentine. Last time I tried a little front crawl, but with the cold, I could hardly breath and almost had to ask for help, so it’ll just be breast stroke this time, but next year front crawl all the way. Lots of training to get in this year for it, I struggle with front crawl and get out of breath really quickly, I need more work on my stroke. Around early July, I managed a great swim in Basildon Sporting Village, my local pool. They built a new swimming pool here for the 2012 Olympics, we had the Japanese swimming team training here, so Basildon benefitted from these games, and also Hadleigh just up the road from us with the Mountain Bike course for the Olympics that year, a great place for a walk or a bike ride. On the day of my great swim in July, I managed to get to 170 lengths, thats over two and a half miles, I just kept going, as my wife was out that day and nothing to get home for, I couldn’t believe how far I went. Hearing stories of people swimming two or three hundred lengths was just astounding for me and completely unachievable, but now I’m almost there, so yes I can do this, it is within my capabillities. Never doubt yourself.
First thing I have to do on Saturday morning is to pick my car up from having a service and MOT, it was done the day before, but when we walked there to pick it up, they couldn’t find the keys, it was a key fob where you press the button to open the car. I knew I should of brought the spare one with me, I normally do. So we walked back home, despite them offering us a lift, we do like walking. With the spare key fob this time we got our car and they’ll keep looking for our key fob, and will pay for a replacement, we discovered will cost £160-170, I never realised they were that much, don’t lose your car keys. First job done, now I have my three monthly scan this morning, so off to the hospital now, we were going to walk, but we’ve already walked this morning, so it’s the car and £3.00 parking. All goes well with the scan, I didn’t have to wait too long to get scanned, and it was a brand new scanning machine, they have three of these now. This one they can speak to you, a little awkward silence while they waited for my reply, I wasn’t use to this, I thought they just speak but she asked if I was ok. Now we just have to wait until the 17th Oct for the results. All done so off to the station at Pitsea for the train to Fenchurch Street, walk around to Tower Hill, get a tube to South Kensington, quick change and one more train to Hyde Park corner, and we’re here, my wife Sonia, son Leo, daughter Lib and her two Jess and Reg, just got to find my Mum who has come down from Ipswich just to support me for this swim, thanks Mum. We see Chris and Davey, our son in law and son, they’re looking after the hot tubs for this event, and have done for four years now, South East Hot Tubs have come along way in the seven or so years they’ve been operating.
We find a little spot to sit in the shade, it is a lovely day today, but I didn’t bring any sun lotion, I didn’t think I would need any, but it’s lovely today. I start getting my self ready, we have an hour before my start time, so no rush. I proudly put on my ‘Minion’ swimming trunks, no wetsuit here, as the water temperature is 18c so wetsuits are not compulsory. Theres lots of ‘oh my god, your not wearing those!’ Along with lots of laughter, which is what I like, life’s too short to be serious too often, there’s a time and a place and this ain’t one of them. Trunks, goggles, ear plugs, vaseline, sun lotion ( my daughter Lib had some with her), tow float, swim number and timing tag on my ankle, swim hat-pink, nice choice, just the colour code for my start time. Right lets do it, luckily I can put most of what I need in my tow float, and the rest my son Davey will look after near the hot tubs, handy having someone on the inside, now lets get to the start.
On to the start area with only a few minutes to go, getting excited now, I now it’s going to be cold and I haven’t done as much swimming as I would of liked lately, but I’m raring to go, my family are waving me off and the front of the queue has started to go into the water, it takes a few minutes for us at the back to get to the water, nervous excitement now, quick pose for the camera, and my feet are in and it’s cold, but not freezing, bearable, and a quick push off and I’m fully in, and I’m loving it, in where I love to be, the water. Swimming breast stroke and it seems slow going but I don’t mind, it’s not a race and I love being in here so why would I want to rush. There’s a group of us swimming along at roughly the same speed, I’m looking out for my family cheering me on from the side, but I can’t see them, so on with swimming then. It’s an oval course, we start half way along one straight then go around and down the back straight, then turn again to the finish. There’s a lot of people about as it’s a lovely sunny day. I’m feeling good today and coping quite well with this swim, I’m starting to catch a few, not speeding past them but moving up the field slowly, round the bend and down the back straight, I’m starting to speed up a bit now, and not feeling cold either, my fingers were going numb last time, but it was 15c, that three degrees makes a big difference, and I had my wetsuit on last time, much prefer as a skins swimmer, I’d say no chaffing but that’s not true as the top of my legs are getting sore, from my baggy minions shorts, I have trunks on underneath, but wanted to make it fun. Coming up to the last bend and no one has overtaken me, but I did start at the back, where all the slower swimmers are, but still a little chuffed with myself. Spoke too soon, ones gone past me quite quick, then on the run up to the finish someone came flying past and he had an orange cap on, so he started half hour after me and he’s caught me up, then another three come past before I get to the finish, they’re all doing front crawl and making it look effortless while they go past me so quickly, I must try harder.
As I get to the finish, I’m given a helping hand to get out, but I feel ok, two years ago I felt shattered at the finish, but I may of had the start of my lung cancer then without knowing it, I have it now but it’s dormant, and certainly doesn’t seem to affect me. I get out walk along and get my tag sorted out then a very feeble shower, then to the hot tubs, something you really look forward to, but my fan club are waiting for me to congratulate me, hugs and kisses before the tubs, I get a little emotional when my wife hugs me and asks if I’m ok, I am but so proud of myself for doing it, getting it done despite having cancer. The generator that swim serpentine had for the hot tubs, kept cutting out so the water in them wasn’t too hot which was a lot nicer, too hot and it’s uncomfortable, as you’ve just come out of cold water. Sitting in the tub you get joined by and meet some lovely people, which is really nice about these sort of events, doing some of the mud runs I’ve done you started to recognise people from the last race which was nice, but this is a big event with 6-7000 swimmers, hard to spot someone with that many. Get my medal and a few goodies and bottle of water then get changed and make my way back to where we’re all sitting and my lovely cup of tea is waiting for me, heaven. Feeling great apart from the top of my legs just above the knee, my shorts didn’t half rub all the way around, there’s always a price to pay for acting the fool, but it was fun and worth it, but they are really sore. We say goodbye and get the train home, salad in a pitta, as I’m vegan, another cup of tea, and bed, I’m going to sleep very well tonight. What a fantastic day it’s been, bring on the next one, take care and thank you for taking the time to read my blog, I do appreciate it, see you soon and :- Don’t be afraid of lung cancer, always 100% positive.
As we have run this 10k run for the last two years, it seemed an appropriate challenge to try and run/walk it again this year to show my cancer, dormant or not, I’m not giving in to it, and if it wants to take me down it’s going to have to work really hard, and cancer is a lazy parasite, it just wants you to sit there so it can crawl all over you. I was diagnosed with incurable cancer in September 2018, but it could be treated, managed and you could live with it , then that changed to terminal cancer in October 2018, giving me an average of a year. I think the way it was told to us made me dig my heels in and grit my teeth, and say sod it, your telling me I’m dying, I’m telling you I’m not. We were smiling at each other, which I think made my oncologist rather confused. It now became a battle between us, he was convinced I would die, because of the data, and I was convinced I would live because I didn’t feel ill enough to be so ill I was about to die from this. I can be a stubborn git when I want to. I think my oncologist had become immune to the distress it causes and was just expecting the same emotional scenes from us, my wife was very upset, so I now had to prove him wrong, for my wife sake. The stakes were now very high, and I was going to win.
Nine months after the terminal diagnosis, my cancer had been dormant for four months, and I wouldn’t say I was ready for a 10k run, but I was going to give it my best effort, hoping to get around in under two hours, but with 1hr 22 mins as my target, as that has been my time for the last two years. being off work since September and having six sessions of chemo, I had done plenty of walking, but couldn’t swim during chemo and hadn’t run since July. When my chemo stopped in February I was backing the pool trying to swim up and down again, being quite happy with my progress, slowly improving, and on one occasion managing 170 lengths, this hasn’t been repeated yet, despite trying. I have done two short runs of about a mile prior to the 10k run, the first I stopped four times and the second I got round most of the mile, but starting to run again after a short stop and I had pain in my left calf, which caused me to limp for about four or five days. The race wasn’t looking very promising based on these two runs, but this time it’s about taking part not trying to break any records.
My team of elite runners ‘Daves rotten Runners’ elite (p)athletic team, is a range of capabilities, from the very useless to the not quite totally useless runners, but with one exception, David, is that me or my son, that’ll be my son then. The rest of us Sonia my wife, daughter Lib, and another son Tom. My daughter Lib got out of it this year, as her daughter Jess wasn’t feeling well, and to cap that, my son Tom stayed over to save a really early start, but realised he’d forgotten his number, Lib offered him her number, but Tom was going to go back and get it, possibly missing the race, so he did use Libs number, which has the timing chip on it. Panic over and Jess didn’t look well so it turned out ok in the end, Tom got his run, and Lib stayed with Jess. As it turned out Jess had sepsis and was admitted to hospital for a couple of days, but I’m very relieved to say Jess is home now and on the mend, but goes to hospital daily for antibiotics for the next week or so.
We get to central London and park in Mayfair, as you do. We got a NCP car park, pre booked for £12.95, for all day on a Sunday, that’s cheap for London, let alone Mayfair. But had the ULEZ charge to pay as well, another £12.95 just make sure you pay it on the day or you’ll get a big fine for late or non payment. Ten minutes later and we’re using the toilets near the start, as the first wave of runners are starting, we were in pen F. There were eight of these to separate the different grades of runners, quickest going first and slowest at the back, we weren’t quite last. I got some t-shirts for us to run in a day or two before the race, I’m so organised. These are from the charity ‘Clowns in the Sky’, which we have raised money for them the last two years we’ve run this race. ‘Clowns in the Sky’ was set up by Richard and his wife Lyn in memory of their daughter Jennifer, who passed away at three years old to a brain tumour. It’s just a small charity that helps children in hospital for brain tumours at a large number of hospitals across the country, a great charity we have had the honour of supporting for a few years now.
The day before the race I got some marker pens, borrowed from Jess, and put the Macmillan logo on one of the sleeves on each of the t-shirts, again more fine organising from me, the plan was to get some proper iron on stickers from Macmillan, I’m desperately short of a ’roundtoit’ I must get one. On my shirt I wanted something on there to say a bit about my cancer and that I was running 10k with it, I came up with ‘Running 10k with lung cancer, sssshhh it’s asleep’, and had a little notice on the word cancer, ‘do not disturb’, not brilliant but got the message across. I also put our Just Giving link on it to , but forgot the ‘s’ on the end of Daves, so had to put a ^ and a ‘s’ at the top, highly professional, I’m not going to be a tattooist either.
As we got in our pen, pen F, we weren’t far from the start, the last two years we had got there early and spent ages waiting and walking very slowly to the start, but this year we got there as it started knowing our pen would not be crossing the start line until nearly 10.00, with the race starting at 09.30. There’s a great atmosphere there, music playing, the announcer calling out peoples names and what charities are being supported, and any fancy dress going by. We crossed the start line at 09.50, game on, now aiming to cross the finish by 11.12, I’m not rushing and not worried if I don’t beat it but it is my target. Last year I got off to a very slow start, and was walking on the first straight, all my team had kept running and left me behind. As you run, you go up one road then turn around so I would see them a few times and wave. But this year I was running slowly but ok, not stopping until my first water stop, a few mouthfuls and the rest over my head, I have my sun hat on too, as I burn so easily. I did offer to run this with a red mohican haircut if we got enough sponsors, but it’s been slow this year with sponsors, so I got out of that one, but would of enjoyed running with that hair cut, despite my family denying any knowledge of who I was. Our fitness freak of a son Davey, shot off at the start and I never saw him again till the end, he is fit. Tom just plodded along at his own pace, Sonia caught him a few times and would have a walk, but soon got to him again. Tom knew if he stopped he wouldn’t start again, he also managed to avoid all the photographers along the route, there were no official photos of his number. I would wave every time I saw them, and got one to photograph the back of my shirt. As I I was running I would get a pat on the back, “well done fella” “amazing” “go you”, that felt so good, and I felt so proud that I was doing this, despite being told nine months before I only had an average of a year to live, cancer ain’t gonna beat me! I was starting to struggle in the second half of the race, I saw Tom and Sonia on Westminster bridge, so I was really pleased with that, even though they were going the opposite way to me, and it did seem to take a long time to get to where they were when I saw them. Around Parliament square towards Victoria then back and along to the finish line, I looked at one clock and it was about half eleven, I wasn’t beating my time from last year, but as I approached the finish, I started to get emotional knowing I hadn’t let cancer beat me, and where ever my fight with cancer went, I wasn’t going to give up. I’m trying to stop myself from full on blubbering as I cross the finish line, and I check their clock and its 11.05, that means I have beaten last years time, this is great, I get my medal and a goody bag, as I carry on the rest of my team are there, we’re all smiling but I grab my wife and hug her, I’m crying now, they’re all wondering what’s wrong, “what’s wrong?” “are you ok”, I tell them “I’ve done it, I beat it!”, I have so much emotion inside me, it’s coming out now but not for long, a minute or two and I’m ok. All through this part of my life, I haven’t had a good cry yet, I have one inside me but it won’t come out, this is the most emotional I’ve been on this little blip in my life, and I’m feeling great. We get our photo done and take a few pics of each other, as we walk up to Trafalgar Square , we see the other ‘Clowns in the Sky’ team, they have a few running today, Richard normally runs this race, but is up in Newcastle, delivering some activity packs to hospitals around there with his wife Lyn, this has allegedly been booked in for a long time so he was unable to race today, but he is a fit bugger, he’s done the London marathon loads, and when that was full he got put into the Edinburgh marathon. We have a hug a chat and a photo with them. We wonder up to get our t-shirt, but there’s a huge queue for it so we don’t bother with this years shirt, we have our medals and that’s enough. We all beat our times from last year, Davey getting in at 46 mins, amazing, Tom 1hr 10 and Sonia 1hr 11 with me bringing up the rear with 1hr 15, I’m so happy with this time, its been a great race, a great day, and all getting good times.
Training for next year will start soon, but not until my legs stop aching, and I’ve also hurt my ribs, feels like I’ve strained the bottom rib on my left, as long as I don’t breath in I’m fine, moving around in bed is quite painful too, but with each day after its obviously getting better, which is a relief, so no doctors or hospital then, which is always a worry when you get pains. i did have cancer in my ribs, which has died off, but did it weaken them? It does seem to be getting better now though. Thats it for this week, next Friday I am filming my story in Liverpool for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, for an advertising campaign being shown in November, so my next blog will be nearer two weeks time and I’ll let you know how I get on there. I’m away and am also having a go at driving a steam train, a busy week. 100% positive, go vegan, take CBD oil, and have chemo. Don’t be afraid of lung cancer!
Believe 100% you will beat it. Go Vegan. Take CBD oil. Have chemo.