Thankyou for coming over for a read!
So yes, it appears I am going to throw myself out of a plane, whilst attached to a total stranger who I will trust with my life. Not the first time we have entrusted strangers with a precious life, turns out strangers are quite often the best people equipped to trust with your life.
Incase you have missed all the action over the last four years (and I wouldn’t blame you if you had, I talk about it sporadically so you may easily have missed it) Gav, Mr Heels, or as he is known on IG @_gettingstuffdoneintrainers, was diagnosed with an incurable (but treatable) blood cancer.
There are over 200 types of blood cancer. Some are fatal within days of diagnosis, some are treatable for many many years, and some are even curable. I lost my Uncle to a very aggressive form of blood cancer, 25 years ago. One minute he was a bit under the weather and the next he was at the Royal Marsden fighting for his life. Two weeks later and he was gone. So I am programmed to be terrified of blood cancer.
I’ll backtrack a little, but I wrote a post about our story Here
Gav has Follicular Non Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was found on a CT scan, by chance, while the doctors were trying to get to the bottom of stomach pain he’d had for a while. (Turned out the stomach pain was most probably an intolerance to lactose and gluten)
I can honestly say that Christmas 2014 was the absolute worst time of our lives. Cancer threw us in to turmoil, and it has taken a very long time for me to be able to talk about any of it without crying. I think I was pretty rubbish really, and cried for about 18 months.
ANYWAY! less of the ole misery story and let’s fast forward! Gav had two years of treatment using an immunotherapy called Rituximab. We managed to avoid chemo – keeping the chemo in our bag for one day when he may need it. This cancer doesn’t really like having the same drugs thrown at it twice, so they use the gentlest treatment they can, until they need to pull out the big guns.
He is now in remission. The shark sleeps. He is bloody amazing and is feeling really good. He ran a half marathon earlier this year and didn’t crawl over the finish line on his knees (he was worried he’d need an ambulance lol) He did it in record time and sprinted over the line with energy to spare. Of course I cried.
One day, if the sh*t hits the fan and Gav relapses, he will need chemo, and because of his age (i.e. he’s quite young to have lymphoma, he’s 48) the doctors will aim to get him in remission again and then he might need a stem cell transplant.
Even typing that makes my heart race and my tummy go over.
HOWEVER, a stem cell transplant is often the only chance of a cure. And in many many cases, its also the patient’s last chance to survive. i.e. NOT DIE.
I have talked about it at length on Stories, but I will write it all here too, feel free to skim read if I have already explained it to you over on IG
Being a Stem Cell Donor has to be one of the most amazing, easiest ways to save a life. Directly. it’s one on one.
You sign up to the Anthony Nolan Register if you are between 16 & 30. They send you a kit. You spit in to the tube. Stick the lid on, fill in the form and send it back. THAT IS IT.
If you are between 18 and 55 you sign up to DKMS_uk – they send you a couple of extra large cotton bud type swabs. Swirl them about inside your cheek, pop them back in the tube, fill in the form, send it off and that is that!
There are many registers, world wide – ALL registers are checked, so you only need to be on one. You will stay on the register until you are 61.
You may be wondering this – ‘It’s blood cancer, so why is it a spit or a swab and not a blood test’
We need you to be a tissue match for the patient. Not a blood match. You, me, we all have genetic matches wandering around the planet, people who have the potential to save our life. Or us, theirs. Blows my mind! You can watch a little video about it here
If you are found to be a match, and they may find a few potential matches, you’ll be contacted and invited to your nearest hospital for a few extra tests etc. Once you are established as the best match, you will be booked in for what will feel a little like giving blood. No gore, no nasty operations, pretty much like giving blood. You can read all about that, and to answer any more in depth questions you might have, here
If you are saving the life of a child… A child… it may be slightly different and you may need to donate your bone marrow. Please know that although it involves a general anaesthetic, all you will have to show for it will be a tiny bruise on your hip where a slim needle goes in to your hip area to aspirate some of your bone marrow. Don’t come over all squeamish, it’s a tiny needle. You won’t know anything about it. Yeah you’ll need the day off work but think about exactly what you are doing. You are saving the life of a child. Imagine the boot on the other foot. imagine it’s your child. That’s all I need to say!
Right! that’s a lot of the medical bit out of the way – now to address other things I could have done to raise money for blood cancer. Could have had a cake sale I guess. But I’d have eaten most of it before it even touched a paper doily !
So why a Sky Dive?
There’s a couple of reasons –
1 – When we were in our 20s we went backpacking round the world. We did a bungee jump, we learnt to scuba dive on the Barrier Reef, we swam with sharks, we climbed Ayers Rock (correction I climbed it, Gav’s not good with heights, so he waved from the ground)
I really wanted to do a sky dive in Perth, but as usual my organisational skills were chaotic slash non existent and it never happened. So it has been stored up as ‘any other business’ ever since.
2. Having these boys of ours, has meant I was always playing catch up. I never wanted to be the mum at the theme park who ‘looked after the bags’ So I never was that mum. The bags would be thrown in to a locker and I’d be on the roller coaster with everyone else. Definite FOMO going on here! lol
Then Gav got cancer and I changed. A friend who’s husband died suddenly at 43, of a heart attack explained, brilliantly, why I changed and I will try to to tell you, succinctly, what she said.
BC (Before Cancer) my anxiety levels were flat lining, very nicely on the lowest level. And by going on scary rides, jumping off things, even watching scary films, raised the old anxiety levels much higher, in a safe environment and isn’t that what adrenaline junkies like? To raise the adrenaline and enjoy the buzz?
AC (yep you got it, After Cancer) my anxiety levels were constantly raised, the New Normal. Constantly in fight or Flight Mode, ready to spring in to action, one eye open all the time, ready to face danger.
I’ll share a little story that really ungrounded me. Shook me to my core and yet it shouldn’t have done. It was NOTHING. But it resulted in what I can only presume was a panic attack. Those that know me will know I am NOT a panic attack kinda person. I might flap a bit in a decent shoe sale, but panic attacks ain’t my bag.
We were on holiday in Bali and the boys had their sights set on going to a massive Water Park. Oh yes! we were ALL up for that! No Problem! (my only concern at that point was to not wear a bikini incase there was a wardrobe malfunction half way down the Kamikazee ride) Whoop! off we go! Stuff in the lockers – wave at the other Mums ‘looking after the baby/bags/ towels’ at the bottom of the rides, we are going HIGH and coming down FAST! SEE YA!
It was something like, the highest doughnut ride in the Southern Hemisphere and we grabbed a bright yellow doughnut each and started climbing the metal stairs up, and round, up and round, up and round. And then it started, and seemed to get worse with every step higher, I could feel myself getting more and more anxious, until we got almost to the top and by this time I was openly crying and (feeling like a total narna) actually shaking. WHAT ON EARTH????
What next? Jump in a doughnut and take the quickest route down? Or take the walk of shame, round and down, round and down, against the tide people coming up.
Gav was concerned and tried to comfort me, the kids were confused, ‘What’s happened to Mum??’ And I was ashamed of myself.
I chose the walk of shame and eventually reached the ground, trying desperately not to let the sobbing noise stuck in my throat, OUT.
Turned out, my new, raised anxiety levels, the New Normal, couldn’t cope with being raised any higher. They’d been raised by fear of cancer. Fear of losing Gav, and to raise them further on a bloody doughnut ride was about to push me over the edge.
So here we are, a couple of years on, I can now talk about Gav’s cancer without crying (ok, not entirely, as you know if you have seen my Stories when suddenly I am side swiped by tears but carry on because I am trying to tell you something important)
I can watch a scary film without having to leave the room (may have iPad with me to distract self with a spot of Pinterest)
And I feel ready to face the ultimate anxiety ridden situation, (although delighted that I don’t have to wear a bikini – that makes things much less stressful) and jump out of a plane.
I hate asking for money – I hate the whole thing it makes me cringe. But in this case, I am blatantly asking you to sponsor me. It doesn’t sit well with me, but I can’t waste a good opportunity to really try to help my chosen charity @DKMS-UK ( used to be called Delete Blood Cancer) Every swab kit they send out, costs £40 to process. I am not suggesting anyone has to donate £40! I will be so blummin’ grateful with any tiny amount as it all adds up.
If you feel you can , here’s the link to my Just Giving page
If you can’t, I was hoping that you would join the stem cell register. You can do that at DKMS UK, here, or at Anthony Nolan, here.
I am jumping on August the 31st, from the airfield at Perranporth, in our beloved Cornwall. Sitting here, typing this, from the safety of the kitchen, I am imagining admiring the beautiful coastal views from the plane. I must remember to open my eyes and concentrate on remembering it all while I am up there and while I am coming down again! Other wise the shlep to Cornwall may as well have been a quick dart to Kent, there and back in a day lol.
Funnily enough, right now, I don’t feel any anxiety at all – the only thing that concerns me is that they might make me wear a hat that doesn’t suit. I mean have you seen those hats they make you wear ?? I am not even worried that I’ll be put in the hands of a total stranger. As long as he pulls the rip cord we’ll be on the ground and off to the pub for a slap up steak and chips, in no time.
And jumping out of a plane, is nothing, compared to what families are going through, RIGHT NOW, fighting their own blood cancer battles.
Thankyou for reading
T H A N K Y O U xxxx