SURPRISING THE AMAZING OLIVER
Jaime and I surprised a little boy at his School so we could drop off a whole load of kindness courtesy of Winsley School in Bath.
Oliver is 6 years old and has been donating his super duper bone marrow and T-cells to his sister Evie who has Hodgkins Lymphoma.
As we all know it’s not just the person with cancer who struggles but also those around them.
Oliver has been through so much and has only ever wanted his big sister to be well again.
Oliver is Life no. 2 of the 52 Lives School Kindness Project and the children at Winsley School made cards, wrote beautiful letters and made video messages telling Oliver just how brave and kind they think he is. They also heard that Oliver liked going to the cinema so used the remainder of their cake sale money to buy cinema tickets for Oliver and his family.
We can confirm that Oliver is every bit the legend we thought he was and it was so lovely to see his reaction to receiving such kind gifts. His little screech at receiving the cinema voucher was especially awesome!:)
To see the video Winsley school made for Oliver and also see Oliver’s reaction when we surprised him at his school click here; – Winsley School’s message for Oliver
Turn off the news people, the world is filled with kind and wonderful people!
ONE YEAR AGO
One year ago today 200 of the 101 gang stood on Richmond Hill and celebrated life. One of the most surreal and incredible days of my life.
5 years before this photo was taken I was sitting in a doctors office having my world turned upside down by being told I had cancer again.
Over the 5 years that followed I survived cancer, created a website and initiative designed to spread hope, travelled the world for two years and thanks to you guys raised awareness and thousands of pounds for various charities around the world.
I would never have dreamed of doing such things 5 years previously, but I wished I had. It would have saved on a number of sleepless nights that’s for sure.
It can be hard to speak of hope when two friends have recently been taken by this awful disease, but it is always there, and it is a truly wonderful thing.
I believe we owe it to those we have lost to live the fullest and happiest lives we possibly can. Otherwise what’s the point in living at all.
Thank you all so much once again for being part of this little journey with me. I will never fully be able to describe just how much it has meant to me.
Wishing you all health and happiness for the future.
PURPLE BALL TICKETS ARE ON SALE
Purple Ball tickets are now on sale! Join us for a night of live music, auctions, west end stars and fun fun fun!
I am a proud trustee of this wonderful charity which raises money for research into ground breaking immunotherapy and also provides much needed emotional support for those affected by cancer.
For £65 you’ll get a three course meal, a glass of bubbles, half a bottle of wine, west end star Colin Roy wowing everyone with his beautiful voice and much much more.
I would love to see some of your smiling faces there on the 24th September! See flyer on how to buy tickets.
NEW BIKE, NEW CHALLENGE
Ladies and gents, please meet the newest member of the 101 gang…..my brand spanking new bike!
I need some ideas of what to call it so please let me know of any suggestions you have? A good bike should have a name!
Those of you who have followed my adventure for the past few years will know that in 2014 I took part in a charity bike ride in the states called AngelRide. It was the first and, up to now, the only time I had ever been on a road bike.
I fell in love with cycling and Angelride turned out to be the most incredible experience of my life.
I have sworn ever since that I would get my own bike and also added a couple of cycling challenges to my list, one being to cycle from John O’Groats to Lands End, which I hope to complete next year. The other is to cycle across the USA….date still to be announced for that puppy!
I had hoped to complete John O’Groats to Lands End (the length of Britain) this year but my fitness and motivation took a bit of a knock this so I decided against it until I had adequate time to train for it. Especially when Andy, the team leader for Team 101 in the USA presents me with a map of what he thinks we should do! Yikes! We may have to modify those timings a wee bit Andy……or a lot!;). My haematology doctor may have a fit if she saw that!
Anyone who watched my interview on the BBC this week will know there are a couple of little physical issues caused by my life saving treatment as a child that make my idea of normal slightly different to that of others.
The main ones are the blood clot I have in the vein that takes blood back to my heart and the others are scarred lungs from radiotherapy and a bit of an aged heart caused by the chemo.
The good news is…. I visited Bristol Royal Infirmary last week and had myself a little MOT to see how the old lung and heart are doing.
An Echocardiogram and a lung function test showed that they are a wee bit under the normal scale but that there was nothing to worry about. It also seems that these little issues can be massively be improved upon with regular exercise! I also met my vascular surgeon on Tuesday who pretty much said go for it and then suggested doing a triathlon! Love it!
So gang, I am going to be on an adventure of fitness and cycling for the next 9 months which I plan on sharing with you as a bit of a rehabilitation research. This will also include info on nutrition, rest and coping with fatigue…something I struggle with after exercise.
Due to my messed up circulation system I struggle to run as blood can’t get back to my heart quick enough so my leg swells up and I get dizzy, but cycling is low impact which means it’s perfect for someone with a deep blood clot like mine. I wont lie -i’m super scared of riding on roads but hopefully I’ll get over this with a bit of practice.
So hear goes, I’ll be taking her out and about for the first time this weekend so i’ll let you know how I get on.
A huge thank you to Sales Filter, insurancewith and Snow and Rock for becoming sponsors of Team 101. I can’t thank you guys enough.
The plan is to achieve something incredible, raise a lot of awareness for all things cancer and mental health related, inspire lots of people and hopefully raise a bit of cash for charity.
Let the riding and fitness extravaganza begin!
WHAT’S ON YOUR LIST?
WHAT’S ON YOUR LIST?
Firstly gang, a huge thank you to everyone who has bought a 101 T-Shirt or Hoodie so far. Thanks to you, we raised a remarkable £1820 for the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation in memory of a beautiful little girl called Claire who sadly lost her life to this awful disease. I was absolutely overwhelmed with the response and can’t thank you enough.
As wonderful as it was raising this money for such a wonderful cause, that was the not main objective of getting the 101 T-Shirts out there.
The grand plan is to use the 101 T-Shirts as a very much unneeded excuse to get you guys out there ticking off your own ‘to do’ lists, taking cool photos with your 101 tops on and perhaps sharing your stories to help inspire others.
I have received a good few blogs and photos from some of you, which I’ll be sharing very soon, starting with the amazing Vicki Connerty who I had the pleasure of accompanying on a 10 day road trip of the mighty Scotland. As you’ll read, this is a place that should be on everyone’s lists.
Some of you sent in photos of yourselves wearing your T-Shirts which was wonderful, however the plan is to get you out there doing the things you love – it might be something on your to do list or might just be something you love doing and that makes you happy.
I, like so many, only decided to follow my dreams after recovering from cancer for the SECOND time no less. I was so fortunate to have been given a third chance at life which allowed me to really go out there and do the things I’ve always wanted to do.
We shouldn’t need any excuse to do the things that make us happy so get out there and have some fun and share your experience with us.
A new 101 T-Shirt campaign will be starting very shortly for those who haven’t got one yet but for those who have got them, please stop wearing them to sleep in and get out there and use them to have some fun!
If you’d like to share your experiences, suggestions and 101 photos then drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
Can’t wait to hear for you! Have a great weekend everyone.
Photo sent courtesy of the beautiful Sean, Lisa, Annabelle and Holly who took this whilst enjoying the beautiful view at Princess Bay in Wellington, New Zealand.
Annabelle is off to University this week so the gang have spent some valuable family time together before she goes.
I had the immense honour of spending Christmas with this beautiful family when I was in New Zealand and they made it one of the most special christmas’ ever. New friends and family were made for life.
Love this photo so much. Thank you so much guys. Good luck Annabelle! X
HAPPY WORLD CANCER DAY
HAPPY WORLD CANCER DAY
I’m not going to lie when I say I hate the word cancer. It fills me with thoughts of suffering, pain and worst of all fear. Considering I’ve had 29 years to get used to it since first being diagnosed at age 7, hearing that word hasn’t gotten any easier.
But when I think about one of the many reasons I shared my story in the first place, I am reminded of that wonderful little thing called hope. I shared my story to show others that cancer can be beaten and that there is a joy filled and fulfilling life after cancer.
Survival rates of cancer are on the increase gang. More people are surviving than ever before. Thanks to new research, new treatments, improved surgical techniques, early diagnosis, better nutrition, psychological support and more hopeful and inspiring success stories to boost people’s inner belief, we are beating cancer into the ground.
I sit here today on World Cancer Day as a two time survivor with some of my bowel missing, one kidney, a blocked main vein and a few mental scars but all things considered, I am in pretty good health. Even when in remission for bowel cancer I managed to travel around the world for two years. The body is an amazing thing.
I know people who have incurable cancer who are still here years after their diagnosis and living life to the full. They show others that there is also life during cancer.
Cancer isn’t the guaranteed death sentence it once was once thought to be and when I think of current survival rates and what I’ve been through personally it fills me with hope and optimism for the future. There is still a lot of work to do especially on the likes brain and pancreatic cancer but we are on the right track.
This blog was all about doing fun things and enjoying life again. Not just for people affected by cancer but for everyone.
Today on World Cancer Day I treated myself to one of my favourite things in life….having a coffee in a coffee shop. It’s a simple thing but one I am very grateful that I can still do and enjoy. I also took time to remember the friends I have lost to this awful disease. I promise you all to live the best life I possibly can.
I hope you all managed to pick up a unity band from CRUK, Anthony Nolan, Breast Cancer Care or Movember and I hope you are having a great day today doing something that you enjoy in life.
Love and thoughts to all those who are currently fighting this awful disease. Keep fighting and never stop believing.
I woke up to this wonderful message today which I think sums up what today is all about. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this Kate. You made my day.
‘Hello you wonderful guy. I just wanted to send a message and say that I am thinking of you, more so today than on other days.. I am thinking of your past struggles and how you have seriously kicked c’s behind. You are strong, a fighter, a giver, a hope-carrier…and i am damn proud to know you.
I am also thinking of Vicky and Row…may Vicky find her direction and may Row stay strong-willed and strong-minded but above all positive, goodness knows she has enough reason not to.
For all of those you and I know and/or have heard of, who have fought and won, or fought so bravely but sadly lost…you are all amazing and in my thoughts.
All of you are so amazing and you Greig, you have made me a little less frightened of what might be one day, a little stronger-minded with regards to fighting. Life is for the living. I hope you hold your head up high, stick your middle finger up at C, take a huge deep breath and have a great day.
With love and bear hugs. xxxx’
THREE INSPIRING DAYS WITH CANCER RESEARCH UK
I had the immense pleasure of spending a few of my days with the wonderful gang at CRUK last and there are certainly some amazing things going on over there.
On Thursday I was asked to speak at the Region 5 conference in Woburn which was held at Woburn Safari park. I must admit I saw the words ‘safari park’ before I saw anything else so immediately said yes!:) It turned out to be the most amazing day where I met loads of amazing fundraisers and listened to a very inspirational talk by two incredible researchers who told us all about the incredible Francis Crick Institute which is set to open next year.
Francis Crick was one Britain’s greatest ever scientists and famous for discovering the DNA double helix structure. This Institute is set it to turn cancer on its head by CRUK teaming up with 5 of the worlds leading medical research organisations. This exciting collaboration is all about bringing together the worlds greatest minds and figuring out new techniques for treating cancer and a whole host of other illnesses. The last 10 years have brought about such wonderful developments in treatments and the next 10 years are set to bring about even more incredible life saving developments in cancer research. Brain tumours, pancreatic cancer and childhood cancers are very much on the agenda so there will some exciting work taking place when the centre opens.
I then got the chance to visit one of cancer research UK’s labs in London on Friday and saw the exiting things going on there. I would love to update you all with all I learned but there were some big words being used and all I really understood was that there are lots of successful clinical trails, new cutting edge treatments and the outlook was looking very very good! Which was all I really needed to hear. Lots of very clever people doing very clever things.
My week with CRUK came to a climax as I was asked to be the closing speaker of the two day Relay for Life Summit in London.
200 ridiculously inspiring people from relays all over the UK coming from places as far wide as Scotland and Gibraltar. There was even a representative from the American Society there who came all the way from Chicago to see how it’s done properly!:) They were all so welcoming to me and to receive a standing ovation at the end of my presentation was just mind blowing and extremely overwhelming. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Should I wave, bow or just hide!:) It was an amazing moment and one which I will never forget. A huge thank you to everyone for making me feel so welcome.
Relay for life raised over 2.4 million pounds this year for CRUK which is just astonishing. This event isn’t really promoted as much as other fundraising events and is organised by volunteers. I can safely say it’s my favourite one by far. It’s fun, it’s inspiring and you are surrounded by the most amazing people. I went to my first relay in Australia and then again here in the UK and I just love it. I am creating a team for next year so if you fancy coming to hang out with me and the rest of the crazy relayers then please let me know and we can work our Team 101 magic and raise some cash whilst having a grand old time.
After the sad and horrific events in Paris on Friday it’s easy to think that the world is a horrible evil place. I loved my talk on Sunday even more than usual because I could once again remind people that the world we live in is a very beautiful place filled with incredibly kind and loving people. Sadly there are a few idiots in this world who like to try and ruin it for the rest but they really are just a few.
For a little injection of hope when it comes to our old foe cancer, please take a look at the annual review for cancer research UK. I read it and I was extremely impressed and hopeful for the future.
Huge congratulations to everyone at CRUK. You are changing the world.
Good luck Team 101
This time last year I was getting ready to embark on the third most physically demanding challenge of my life (the first two were involuntary and started with the letter C) and complete a 140 mile bike ride across the state of Connecticut in the USA to raise money for a camp for seriously ill children.
Sadly I can’t make it this year but that hasn’t stopped the legend that is Andy Heaps from creating TEAM 101! Not only that he had modified Angelride to make even more difficult for him and the other Team 101 members. Instead of 140 miles they will ride 250 miles, with 110 of those miles being through the night in what they have called ‘Hills of Hope’. Their plan is simple, they want to want to almost kill themselves doing something amazing in order to raise as much money as possible for a place that helps makes seriously ill children better.
In order to help prepare these cycling warriors for this weekends challenge I have attached my Rocky IV tribute montage that I made last year to help motivate me. It’s hilariously bad but it worked so make sure you watch and learn Team 101!
I have asked you all for a lot this week and this will be my last request for a while but I would love it if you could please help sponsor Team 101 and help them reach their target of $12,000 for the Hole in the Wall gang camp.
You can read more about their challenge and also sponsor them here.
If I weren’t still on the road I would be attempting this madness as well.
Good luck to Team 101 and to all those taking part in Angelride this weekend. You are all heroes.
Movember – Final update
It’s now been 30 days since I started growing my ‘Mo’ and it was only 4 days ago I decided to give up dreaming of gaining the Tom Sellick look and I’ve officially settled for the Errol Flynn look.
I gave my ‘Mo’ a little trim the other day to try and give the same kind of classy look as this cinematic legend!:) What do you think? Separated at birth?:)
Myself and the team didn’t quite reach our £500 goal but I’m sure the money we did raise will go someway to help raise awareness and research for men’s health issues. A huge thank you to everyone who has sponsored us. If you’d like to donate please see link below.
Fortunately I have only suffered from one of the three men’s health issues which Moevember raises awareness for. I have managed to avoid prostate and testicular cancer but mental health issues and me still do battle on a daily basis.
I’ve said a lot about my experiences with mental health issues so I won’t keep banging on about it. I’ve attached a couple of links to blogs I have written regarding my own experiences with what I have described ‘as worse than both of cancers put together’. That says an awful lot coming from a guy who has multiple major operations and a ridiculous amount of chemo and radiotherapy.
Those of you who have also experienced mental health issues will also know that this is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
In the UK alone 6045 people died by suicide in 2011. Over three quarters of these deaths were men.
The basic truth is that men don’t like to talk about their issues. To a man being ‘manly’ means being able to cope with….anything! Admitting vulnerabilities or expressing emotions are not a mans strong point.
However admitting there is a problem is the first step to remedying it!
Types of mental illness
- Bipolar disorder
- Psychosis and Schizophrenia
- Eating disorders
To learn more about these please types of mental health issues please click on this link- http://uk.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health
Things that helped me
Talk to someone
There are loads of help lines and charities that can help. The first thing you should do is talk about it. You’ll be amazed by how many people will be experiencing the same thing.
Here was I thinking I was losing my mind three years ago and since sharing my story it turns out that an awful lot of people were experiencing the same thing.
Exercise and eat well
It makes sense that looking after your physical well being directly effects your mental health. Go out for a walk, run or a swim and then come back and have a homemade fruit and wheatgrass smoothie. I can guarantee this will help give you a well needed lift in your emotional well being.
Get in touch with nature (yes I am hippie!)
Go for a walk or lie down in a park. Hug a tree, go camping, walk barefoot on grass or paddle in the sea or a river. We are not designed to sit behind desks or drive cars. When I did these things it alleviated the side effects of chemotherapy and gave my mind time to relax and be visually stimulated by beautiful natural things. I promise you this does help if even for just a short while.
Have things to look forward to doing
I know not everyone can up and leave like I have done but even having short weekend trips or meeting with friends at the weekend give you something to look forward to. It is looking forward to doing things that I enjoy that helped me more than anything. Just planning this trip helped me get over the first major effect of my anxiety which was insomnia. Once I started to look forward to doing things my fear of the future instead turned into excitement.
I was never much of a writer before starting this blog but now I write all the time. I absolutely love it. I write mostly for the blog but also just for me. I find writing down my thoughts and feelings helps me reflect on the positive and distance my self from the negative. Try writing for yourself and then when you feel comfortable share it with family or friends. My dad didn’t agree with me leaving my job and going travelling. He never quite understood what I was going through. I wrote a business type plan explaining my reasons for needing to do this trip that helped him realise the true extent of my mental health issues. After he read this he gave me his blessing and finally understood. Sometimes writing things down can not only help explain things more clearly but also help others understand them better.
Remind yourself of all you have in this moment
Someone asked me recently if I ever thought of suicide. I have never thought of killing myself but I do remember wondering if there was any point to living anymore. If life was going to be like this then what was the point. I would then realise that in this moment all is well. What happens in the future happens but right now I don’t have cancer and I’m doing ok. This realisation would and still has to be reiterated three or four times a day but nonetheless it brings me back round to knowing that in this moment I am well and I have everything I need.
Whatever issues you are experiencing please know that there is help and you are not alone. Most of all please remember that there is a way through these dark times.
To seek support in whatever country you are in please type in ‘Mental Health support’ in your internet search engine.
My blogs on mental health
An amazing day in Oz
I was asked by the amazing people at Cancer Council to give a short speech at their relay for life event on Saturday. I expected to pop in there for a couple of hours, say a few words and chat to some people afterwards but 12 hours later I found myself still there and having the most amazing time.
This event wasn’t what I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be primarily focused on the 24 hour relay around a track but it was so much more than that. This was a wonderful community event where people from all walks of life came to celebrate life, encourage hope and remember those that have been lost.
I gave a chat in the survivors and carers tent in the morning and another chat later on in the day. I told of my experiences with cancer and PTSD and that I had learned that there is hope for us all.
There were so many different activities going on throughout the day; A thai chi class, swing dance lessons, a chiropractors tent, a petting zoo, a bouncy castle (so much fun) and lots of bands and singers who performed all through the day. There were also two local politicians answering questions on how the government is tackling cancer and a wonderful speech by a leading oncology expert.
I also took part in a beauty pageant where I finished in an amazing third place….out of a total three people ! I couldn’t argue, the other two looked far better in dresses than I did. There were also three young lads there who all had there head shaved and raised over $1000 in the process. Amazing!
The highlight of the day though was the candlelight ceremony of hope where everyone comes together to remember loved ones and support those still fighting cancer. Electric candles are lit and put in bags with a message of hope written on the outside.
It was beautiful to see everyone carrying their candle bags of hope around the track in the Sydney moonlight. I was asked to sit on the stage and to light one of three candles which represent hope, survivors and carers and remembrance.
There were readings, a choir, a singer and a speech by the most incredible woman. Alison has been battling ovarian cancer for 7 years now. She was given a terminal diagnosis but thanks to new treatment she is still here, still fighting and one again loving life. She told me that cancer is the best thing ever to happen to her. She said how it changed her whole life and has helped her appreciate life even more. I was extremely overwhelmed to be in such inspiring company.
Many people camped out for the night and continued the fun and the walking until 10 o’clock the next day.
A huge thank you to the cancer council for letting me part of their wonderful world. These guys are dedicated to the defeat of cancer and raise money for research, prevention and support. They have been instrumental in improving the lives of many Australians via their campaigns. I loved them even more when I found out their motif is the ‘daffodil’ which represents hope. Hope is my most favourite thing in the world. Hope can achieve so much….love, happiness, optimism and a belief that anything is possible. I hope when you read this it finds you all well and filled with hope.
“Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and good things never die”
The Shawshank Redemption
Cancer council Facebook page-