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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 email@example.com.
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.
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!
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
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
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!
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
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
*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.
If you have any questions about Macmillan, or would like to talk to someone about cancer, we have a team of experts who can help.
© Macmillan Cancer Support, registered charity in England and Wales (261017), Scotland (SC039907) and the Isle of Man (604). A company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales company number 2400969. Isle of Man company number 4694F. Registered office: 89 Albert Embankment, London SE1 7UQ.