Firewalking Isis

Megan - Macmillan

Your events

This is where we celebrate all the fantastic events and challenges our Community members have taken part in, from sponsored walks to skydives. If you’re doing something you’d like to shout about on this blog, email community@macmillan.org.uk.

Blog Entry

Firewalking Isis

Flames before Isis's firewalk

By Isis:

Way back near the beginning of my cancer journey I heard about this amazing opportunity run by Epilepsy Scotland to do a Firewalk and I wished that I could take part - the previous year they had organised a bungee jump to raise funds, however that fell at the stage where I was in my biggest flare up with pain yet, so no way could I do it. So, I decided if treatment goes well and I can do this I will, so I sent an email off enquiring about booking my place and if I couldn’t do it then they had an extra £20 to their fundraising total. No harm no foul.

It was something I had everything crossed that I could take part in. The biggest part I struggled with after I got ill was that I had to give up my work and volunteering, which was primarily helping other people. Now the roles got reversed, and I was the person needing all the assistance.

Reclaiming my body

This was my opportunity to give something back and raise money for a great cause, do something majorly empowering and claim my body back from this awful disease. Three years after the pain first took over my life I was standing up and showing it who is boss – finally! Therefore I was more determined than ever when results showed great progress that I was doing this. The doctors and nurses had to look twice whenever I was in, they couldn’t believe the difference in me a matter of months had made. One doctor had said in the beginning I looked like I had just escaped a prisoner of war camp I was so emaciated; now nobody recognised this healthy confident, wheelchair and stick-free woman wandering through their corridors. One nurse tells everyone how I am the poster girl for chemo, as nobody ever expected the girl with stage 4 colon cancer, whose life was taken from her with such crippling pain ever to look like this especially so quickly.

So I went public. Set up a Just Giving page, and smashed the minimum £120 target set and to date I have raised £580 and counting! I may, however, have not told the doctors and nurses I was doing this, for fear they would say no can do little miss, cancel it! My chemotherapy stopped due to neuropathy and it was getting worse the longer I was off it, not better, so I was getting about as nervous as anyone else who had signed up to do this task, but I was still determined this would be something to check off the to-do list and the girl who used to be, would have a night to shine once more. I mean really, the feet couldn’t feel much worse and you never know it might just help it!

There I was, signed up to insanity, to strut my stuff on a Guy Fawkes Firewalk and you can imagine what people said to me when they heard about it and went onto my page and read that the girl who couldn’t walk last year is now planning to do this - walk across 20 feet worth of burning embers sizzling away at around 1200° F, just for fun!!!

I don’t know about you, but post-diagnosis my devil-may-care attitude seems to have amplified. Figure cancer’s not killed me yet, and I refuse to give in and let it rule my life, which could be all too short, why not do anything and everything. Squeeze in as much life into however many years I’m given to make it a good one.


As you probably guessed, cancer and epilepsy are both things I live with, but only a tiny part of a huge list of things that make this seem all the more insane to the outside world! I have Familial Adenomatous Polyposis (FAP), which is a rare genetic fault which has caused me to have a random battle with cancer for life. Although it is an Epilepsy Scotland event this was a personal achievement where I wanted to show Cancer, FAP, Factor V Leiden, DVTs and of course epilepsy who is boss by strutting over these hot coals!

So yeah, this is me - officially a unique individual I am with such a random mix of things that call my body their home!

 Hot coals before Isis's firewalk

The night arrives

The night arrived and while Blaze built the fire for all our supporters to watch and document (rather glad I never saw the huge flames before I was asked to walk I must say!), we went for training with a man called Tony who worked for Blaze. I was pretty sure it was going to be some sort of Derren Brown type positive mental attitude seminar and I was right. It was a giggle, and more like a drama class, but Tony managed to get a room full of hyped up, if still scared individuals, into a state where we would walk over hot coals.

‘T minus 6 minutes’ was announced and the room fell silent.

We were all having so much fun shouting, laughing, doing fun little games, nobody really wanted to believe 2hrs had flown by and soon we would have to face our fears and do what we had raised all the money for. As we walked out the building, you could hear the drums beating and see embers fly through the air – that was when the sinking feeling in my stomach appeared. The drums were slow until we all got round to the fire and it felt like a scene out of an old film where we were all walking to our death or something! Not so good for the nerves! Lol!

As we approached the crowd in the dark, and gathered around the glowing fire, the beat of the drums increased and we were asked to take our shoes and socks off. For the crowd it looked like we were all dancing to the drums but really we were standing barefoot on soaking wet, freezing concrete hoping from one foot to the other before we froze our feet off. This was probably helpful in making the fire look appealing, mind you! The members of Blaze who were setting out the fire then raked over the two channels of burning embers to make one big lane of them for us to walk on.

It was time!

Hot coals

Tony showed us all how it was done, and then it was time for us all to gather round and one by one empower ourselves by doing such an amazing thing, striding across these hot coals.
I know what you are thinking, it’s a case of a cooled down barbeque, nothing to it, no flames no heat, just soot. Photos prove otherwise!!!

When the event turned real and I saw a few faces in the crowd through the darkness that I recognised, I felt a lump in the back of my throat. Overwhelming emotions bubbled under the surface and I thought to myself how amazing it is I can and am doing this. My friends and I got separated on the walk to the fire and instead of trying to find them in the dark, minus glasses, I thought - I am going to do this myself. Stand tall, stand up to all I have battled and show them who is boss. All the time trying my hardest to get the emotions to settle, no tears to ruin my makeup thank you very much!!!

One by one we marched up and Tony would ask us our name, followed by ‘are you ready?’ To which I am fairly sure we all said yes as we were powered up by the supporters, seeing everyone else walk and not being the first one to back out – even if your head said no, yes came out your mouth. Tony responded with ‘SHOW ME!’ and pointing down the length of the firewalk and then we were off. Striding across hot coals, 10second walk and it’s all over. Your feet hit the freezing cold concrete, turn around to celebrate your achievement with family and then your body realises what it has just done. 

Success!

I remember feeling nothing, just oh so glad to be off the cold ground. Think it was due to such temperature changes making my feet go tingle crazy with the neuropathy that the firewalk never registered in my head as it didn’t really do anything, my feet told my head it was a wander on carpet or something and it was the shock of hitting the cold wet concrete that sent them into a screaming tingling mess! So quickly, shoes back on. After all the firewalkers had been we let out a large cheer and headed in to clean and turn our black soot covered cold feet into normal looking ones, and absorbe truly what was achieved. 

We were given certificates from Blaze, and a woman gave him a note to read out to let us know that over £9000 was raised!
*big cheers let out across the room*
We walked out to meet our supporters.

There I was squinting in the dark trying to look out for loved ones cheering me on as I had no idea who had all turned up. I saw a little group of friends and ran up to them and got hugs and praise and lots of photos while I just stood uttering ‘I can’t believe I done that, I really can’t.’
*biggest grin on face and tears welling up in my eyes*

I realised after a while of saying hello to everyone who surprised me with their visit that my rock, my wonderful Thundercat I hadn’t gotten a hug off. I ran over to him and was lifted in his arms to a chorus of ‘awwwww that’s so sweet’ from all my friends. Felt good to have reclaimed a little bit of that fiery crazy little rock chick they knew before I became cancer girl and needed so much looking after. For that short moment, that we all wanted to repeat but were told it was a onetime shot only, I was me. Standing up, standing tall and owning my body.

Then I hear someone call my name, it was one of the organisers – who happened to be the sister of someone I’ve known for years, small world! She wanted a word. She told me that Epilepsy Scotland had got a gift voucher to give to one of the firewalkers and they all agreed I should be the one to receive it! How unexpected and touching it was. I cannot remember the reasons why, if I raised the most or my name came out a hat, or maybe it’s because I stood up to a lot of things that night. Either way, it was amazing, and made the tears well up a little bit more. Words can’t express what it meant to me to do that, to succeed even with the crazy neuropathy paining me for months, I ignored it all and reclaimed a little bit of me back, as well as earning a lot of money for an amazing charity. Who knows what I will do next. It is going to be a fun adventure whatever it is. I do however know who will benefit, as next year I plan to do something to raise funds for the Oncology Dept. at my hospital.

Comments
  • An absolutely incredible story - thanks so much for sharing it with us Isis. I whimper taking plates out of the dishwasher when it's just finished, so cannot begin to comprehend the heat/pain/fear of walking over actual hot coals.  I found this really inspiring, thank you. 

    Laura 


  • Hoorah for you, Isis :) a girl after my own heart. Keep kicking and living and loving and enjoying and defying and all the stuff I say to you all the time ;)

    Big hugs to a brave lady and youdidn't mention that you might have found a cure for neuropathy haha.

    Little My xxx


  • What an achievement, so proud of you girl :)

    Looking forward to seeing what you get up to next.

    Huge but gentle hugs as always xo


  • Did you have to chant "hot coals burning under my feet, hot coals burning...?". I watched it being done once before and they were all chanting that, it was a surreal experience to watch and my goodness a brave thing to do, we'll done, I am very proud of you. And as if that wasn't enough, keeping kicking ass!!!!! Big hug xxxx

  • Hi all! So glad you enjoyed the read! 

    It wasnt until after i sent it off i remembered i was gonna put in my little anecdote about how weekly firewalking should be a new therapy for those suffering with bad neuropathy! lol, those two days after it where feet were normal and i could walk were well worth the 10second stride across coals!

    Ah we did get told about those things Clare - apparently the american more hippie tree huggers get you to do random chants, the one he told us about we were giggling to was something about wet moss?! lol! He prefers people to focus on an internal voice in your head just screaming 'aaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh' as you walk over it and let your head switch back on after its done. If your concentrating on things that should be said you will probably feel the coals more as your heads trying to multi-task.

    It was a mental and brilliant experience. Still cant quite believe i done it but sooooooo glad i did. I highly recommend it to everyone. It certainly gave me the inner strength i needed to get me through this month.

    Much love x 


  • Hi Isis,

    Just found this blog and what a great read.

    Well done! Treatment for cancer can be harsh but I can imagine all those patients with neuropathy dreading the thought that hospitals may take up your new found cure!

    Of course this is just the start and we are all watching to see how you are going to top this next year.

    Odin xxx


  • Hey Odin, 

    I was totally terrified thanks to the neuropathy, but i figured it cant get much worse and was shocked to find it really helped. They teach you mind over matter and how various moods can create physical effects on your body. Those things i imagine would be of benefit people with cancer if they cant walk the walk too hehe! I would LOVE to do it again, but the whole raising £150 just to take part in it each year is a bit much lol - fun thing to say i have done once however!

    No idea how to top it for craziness levels but i want to arrange a big fundraiser evening for the onc dept so shall see how i manage to pull that off next year. Hopefully it will go aswell as my fundraising for this place, because another donation came in, im up to £590 now! eshk!! 

    Isis x 


  • People (and fellow superheroes from here) have not forgotten my firewalk and how fundraising will be on til end of Jan 2013. In the last day ive raised another £40 and therefore have £630 raised!!! TYSM EVERYONE! xxxxxx


  • What a fantastic total, Isis! Well done. Thanks for letting us all know.


  • Hi Isis,

    Yes a grand total and counting!

    I was amazed about how generous people can be.

    Of course for my walk I made sure that I wore heavy boots and the rain assured me that the surface i walked on was cold.

    Well done,

    Odin xxx


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