Sunday 22 February 2015

Making a Deposit

I need to start this by acknowledging my shortcomings in not blogging about this sooner. As topics go there aren't many that have as much inherent potential for humour and I managed to somehow skim over it the other week. My bad.

Secondly I just need to put a disclaimer out that should you be my mother, you stop reading at this point. If I know there's a chance of you reading it then I'll never be able to write abut it fully without cringing myself out massively.

Now that is out of the way I shall begin. This post is about the trip to the bank I made Tuesday before last, however this was not a trip to Maesteg NatWest, this was a trip to the Fertility Unit's Sperm Bank in The Heath. Somewhat similar in as much as you have to wait in a queue to be seen, but different in as much as you can't withdraw any deposits you make from Cash Machines in the centre of town. Thank god.

On arrival I had the first piece of good news I've had off a medical professional in weeks: I have a good sperm count and the sperm have a good mobility level. Yes lads! Due to this and the accompanying clean bill of health on the STD front I was given the green light to make my deposit to the sperm bank.

The reason I had been sent to the fertility clinic is that chemotherapy can make you infertile and as such I need to have a backup stored just in case I do prove the doctors wrong and hang around long enough for this to be a consideration. Strangely this was one thing that affected me more than I had anticipated. The realisation that through death or infertility I will in all likelihood never father a child and have a family of my own hit me a lot more that expected, I guess I had subconsciously been looking forward to coaching my kid to his/her first national title without even realising it. But I digress, back to the topic on hand and my trip to the Heath.

I was shown into a little room and given nothing but a plastic pot and some privacy. I was also pointed towards a folder in the corner that contained some "helpful material" to peruse whilst in the room. There are a number of strange and disconcerting things about this room, none of which make what you are about to do remotely easy:

  1. The only seat in the room has a layer of blue roll over it. I'm assuming as they expect there to be anywhere between 10 and 20 different bare male arses on it per day. I chose not to sit.
  2. You have time to consider. If you are out within 5 minutes it's just going to be embarrassing for everyone involved, if you take forever then at some point someone will have to come and check on you. Nobody wants that. In my opinion about 15 minutes should be a safe time to aim for.
  3. The "helpful material" that has been provided. I'm assuming the NHS doesn't have a massive proportion of it's budget allocated specifically for erotic material, and as a result you are provided with one magazine, circa 1990. If it wasn't for the invention of the iPhone and free hospital wi-fi I'd probably still be in that room today.

Having finished up and been given a talk about how long the 12 samples can be stored (10 years for free and up to 55 years of you pay, for anyone interested) I was done and on my way out of the hospital.

On the way out I began to think over the whole process, and in particular about one section of the forms I had to fill in where I could nominate one female to have access to my samples. As I don't have anyone to put in that section this presents a money making opportunity I feel. If I look at it objectively I have some quality genetic makeup (other than the cancer thing, but that's not hereditary so we're good) and a lot of people don't. So in theory I could auction off access and make a small fortune off someone who wants to give their child the best chance at being intelligent and shredded with a strong jawline (they may have to take the hit if they want modesty to be a strong quality however). Not quite sure how legal/ethical it is but we'll overlook that for now...

Saturday 21 February 2015

Finally Able To Blog Again

This is just a quick update to let everyone know I am still around and will still be writing, however throughout my treatment over the next few weeks I'll probably have to reduce the frequency, as it is fairly difficult to pen anything remotely witty/entertaining when you feel like throwing up 90% of the time. Who would have thought it eh!

I am currently experiencing a brief period of inactivity from my stomach so will endeavour to write as much as I can before it wakes up again.

Since I last wrote I have been continuing with my radiotherapy Monday-Friday and chemo every day. I feel sick at some point every day, but since the consultant changed my sickness tablets from the original Metoclopramide (may as well have been prescribed crispy M&Ms) to the new Odansetron I haven't actually been sick. So at least I'm winning on that front.

The biggest issue with the nausea is the impact it has on appetite, because the last thing you want to do if you might be sick is shovel down a load of grub. So at the moment I'm feeling pretty thankful for the pre-treatment bulking that the steroids provided as I'm now back down to around 70kg, so god knows where I would be if it wasn't for the padding I put on a few weeks ago.

Sorry this is pretty brief, but I do have to write about a few things in the near future that I missed out on last week, so hopefully I'll be continue to feel brighter each day so that I am at the point where I can do these events justice with a lengthy and slightly humorous post.

Saturday 14 February 2015

A Rough Few Days

My last blog post ended with my statement that I was headed off to the gym. That didn't exactly go to plan, I made it about 90% of the way from my house to the gym before I needed to get out of the car to projectile vomit all over the place.

The sickness had come on fairly suddenly, and thankfully I noticed it in time to avoid plastering my mates brand new focus in Wednesday's lunch. I spent the rest of the night in bed, cuddled up with a bucket, emptying what was left in my stomach. However, when I woke up the next day to leave for my treatment I was feeling ok all things considered.

Again, though, I spent Thursday and Friday nights being sick into various receptacles around the house and laying in bed. Not the most glamorous and exciting of evenings.

As I'm on both radiotherapy and chemo I'm not sure which is causing it or whether it is a combination of the two. Over the weekend I will just be on my chemo as I don't start back radiotherapy until Monday, so hopefully I'll be able to work out which treatment is the culprit.

On a slightly more positive note, Piri is loving life in the house now she has settled in. She's going to the toilet on her mat and playing fetch (sort of, she's happy to fetch what you throw but less happy about the "drop" part of the exercise) but most of all she is brilliant at cheering everybody up. It is impossible to watch a pug confusing herself over a ball that squeaks or terrorising my mother's knitting wool without a smile breaking out on your face, no matter how bad things are.

Wednesday 11 February 2015

And So The Treatment Begins

I still have the events of the weekend to write about, but feel I should catch up chronologically, so I will just dedicate this paragraph to the weekend before moving forward to today. Friday two of my mates from the days down in Plymouth Uni surprised me with a visit to Cardiff and tickets to the Wales v England game at the Millenium Stadium. The atmosphere in the stadium was electric, and after a few pints during the match we were game to carry on. We headed out into town and had a few in Maddison DC. I'd been feeling like crap since London so was glad to take my mind off the cold, and even more glad to wake up with a minimal hangover. On Saturday I attended the biggest sporting event to take place in the capital that weekend, the Welsh Judo Championships. It was a good afternoon catching up with people, but I definitely prefer receiving a medal to presenting them!

Moving on to today, I was up at the ungodly hour of 11am to get ready for yet another drive to Cardiff. Today was the first day of my treatment which would include radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, I first had a stop at a radio station to get on with. After my BBC Radio Wales interview last week I was to do a pre-recorded interview for Capital FM today in the Red Dragon centre. Once again I am proud to say I managed to not cough or sneeze once during the interview, Jamie 2 Cold Nil!

On arrival at Velindre I was given some information about the radiotherapy and asked to sign another consent form before being told to wait in the waiting room to be collected. I was then taken into the treatment room. This feels like a good time to explain a bit about what radiotherapy entails for those who may be unaware, basically you are clipped into a machine by your face as it whirs around you shooting X-Rays at the tumour.

More technically a machine that looks a bit like the one below (just considerably less shiny) has clips that the radiotherapy mask fits into to keep you still. Then you wait for a couple of minutes at most while the machine changes position and delivers X-Rays aimed at the tumour. The machine moves about to ensure that although the tumour receives a full dose of radiation the surrounding brain cells only receive a limited amount.

Unfortunately the mask is also quite tight, which may result in leaving there covered in honeycomb shaped marks, looking not unlike a lizard. On the up side, you feel nothing during treatment and it takes hardly any time at all so I was in and out of the hospital within an hour.
Along side the radiotherapy I am undergoing chemotherapy. My chemo is in the form of tablets to be taken every day. It works by killing cells as they divide, and as cancerous cells are constantly dividing whereas the majority of other bodily cells are not it attacks them more than other cells. However this can also attack those cells that are dividing a lot such as those in hair (hence the Heston look ready for possible hair loss).

Because I am having both radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the same time my chances of side effects are obviously fairly high, however in general they take a week or two to appear. So I will end this here because I need to squeeze as much gym in as possible if I want to gain that title of Most Shredded Cancer Patient. Especially as those damn steroids ruined my start!

Tuesday 10 February 2015


Last Wednesday I had my first headache in weeks. This happened to coincide with my journey to London. Lucky me! So come Wednesday afternoon my dad had the pleasure of sitting on a Megabus with the worlds worst passenger. I slept the majority of the way, other than when I woke up briefly at the services to take some paracetamol. On the up side, the journey flew by for me.

My dad lived in London for about 30 years so he was happy to be home for a bit, even if it was only very briefly. So I had the arrival fully narrated due to the detailed description of the roads we were going down as the bus approached Victoria Coach Station. When we arrived we got a taxi to the hotel, which was fairly nice considering it was one of the cheapest we could find. Having said that, the lifts were big enough for roughly half a person and the breakfast did involve making a choice between warm toast and warm bacon.

That evening we went for food at a pub across the road followed by a catch up with one of my mates from when I was down in Plymouth Uni back in the day. I attempted to have a drink but half a bottle of Rekorderlig kicked my double vision off so much that I had to close one eye to cross the road, thankfully I played frogger quite a bit as a child so I was prepared for this situation.

The next morning I awoke with a horrific medical condition, some say it can be worse than the cancer. This condition was the dreaded Man Flu. I managed to drag myself out of bed and down to the aforementioned breakfast and got ready to leave the hotel for our journey across London. Roughly 45 minutes and 15 stops on the underground later we arrived at Great Portland Street Station and departed.

The London Clinic Consulting Rooms were a short walk from the station so we started the walk across to a place that was coincidentally 2 minutes down the road from the Portland Hospital where I was born. We had travelled up so that I could meet with a specialist from The Royal Marsden in order to get my second opinion.  The London Clinic was a world away from the Heath and Velindre, plush chairs and spacious, well decorated consulting rooms show the difference between private practice and the NHS.

When the consultation began we started by discussing how the doctor had wanted to see me as his son did judo, and he had even been sat next to my mat in Glasgow (thankfully we didn't discuss that day too much). Who knew judo would come in so handy one day. The next hour he went over the scans in detail, explaining why the tumour was inoperable and why it was so hard to monitor and control. The reason was basically the nature of the tumour causing it to be hard to differentiate between brain tissue and tumour tissue. We also discussed all the other issues that had been discussed at Velindre such as treatment plan and prognosis to ensure he agreed with what had been set out for me.

In summary he agreed that the tumour was of the type I had been told and that I had been given the best possible treatment plan, this news reassured my mother (who had been wanting me to get a second opinion), even if it was not what she really wanted to hear.

Following the meeting, and an agreement to catch up with the doctor at the Welsh Championships that weekend, we headed for Victoria ready for the journey home where I would prove to be the perfect travelling companion once again by sleeping awkwardly for at least 90% of the drive.

Sunday 8 February 2015

Guess Who's Back, Back Again, Jamie Mac, Tell A Friend

Think this is the longest I've gone without writing a blog post, a combination of a horrendous man flu and lots of things to do have meant I haven't had the time, or quite frankly the inclination, to sit at a screen for a prolonged period of time. So now I'm over the worst of the cold I will start going through what I've been up to, starting with Tuesday and my trip into Cardiff.

My day started with a trip to the Heath and the joys of rush hour traffic on the dual leading to the hospital. I arrived dead on 08:30, the time of my appointment. This would be ideal if the layout of the place didn't resemble that of the Crystal Maze so much, so by the time I had found the room I was looking for I was nearly 15 minutes late for my appointment. Luckily the appointment didn't involve much so I was out within the hour to grab a Starbucks before being picked up to head into Cardiff to begin my day of catch-ups.

First on the list was one of my fellow ex-full-timers, I also feel that I should mention that he squats, heavy, otherwise he might not speak to me again. Unfortunately he had parked outside the Womens Wing of the hospital which meeant I had to awkwardly navigate my way through the Gynaecology wards to find the exit. Thankfully I didn't get lost and wander into any of the investigation rooms, or I think I might have been severely scarred by the scenes.

Having navigated the Crystal Maze and the Gyneacology Ward I finally made it to the car, where we had the joy of sitting in slow moving traffic to get out of the hospital. Finally we made it to Costa for a catch up and more caffeine. I decided to follow this up with a Magic Wrap from Cardiff Uni SU, the first one in months. All about the chicken.

As a change I then went for another Costa then with the Head of Sports Performance at Cardiff Uni to discuss everything that has been happening as well as how the Uni can help with the fundraising that is being done with equipment/pitches etc.

I then went for another Costa and a walk around the shops with one of the judo boys, mainly because I needed new t-shirts to fit my 75kg steroid-induced frame. Also because I was apparently intent on being the first person to kill of a cancerous tumour purely with over-consumption of caffeine. Whilst browsing for t-shirts that were significantly less fitted than ususal I had an email from an address I didn't know. Expecting some sort of spam I opened it up and began to read.

This email however, instead of offering me discounts on solutions for erectile disfunction, was from a Finnish athlete/journalist who had been in contact with the Kakslauttanen Hotel in Finland and they had offered me accommodation to hopefully see the Northern Lights. Times like this really do restore your faith in humanity, it is really amazing that some people will do things like this for a stranger. However, walking through Cardiff late at night you are fairly likely to have that level of faith restored to its previous levels so it wont last too long I'd guess.

An Igloo at Kakslauttanen Hotel

The entire time I was in Cardiff my mother was messaging me asking how long I would be and telling me not to be late, which is strange, even when she is being paranoid about something. When I got home I went straight upstairs and was wondering why she was insisting I came down to the living room. I eventually conceded and plodded downstairs (I plod a lot now, due to my extra timber) to give my fish and chips order. When I got to the living room it was strangely full of people, so I sat in the only spare seat and wondered why everyone was staring at me. It was then I looked to my left and at what was snoozing on my mother's lap. A pug puppy!

Anyone that follows me on instagram and looks at their 'Following' page they will know how much of a big deal this is. We spent the evening looking at alliterative baby girl names and came up with nothing, until my brother had a brainwave (first time for everything) and suggested Piri, so that when we call her we'll be shouting Piri Piri down the street. If this doesn't get me a Nandos Black Card nothing will!

So say hi to Piri the Pug, the latest addition to the MacDonald household. I'd better stop writing as there is currently a small ball of fur attacking my shoe, trying her hardest to distract me. And it's working.

Monday 2 February 2015

Eating My Words, And It Shows On My Face

I said in a recent post that I might not have much to write about over the coming weeks. Well, it appears I jinxed myself with that statement.

First and foremost, I have been forced to wear my glasses a lot more as my eyesight deteriorates. I wouldn't mind this as I paid £270 for the things so any extra use is welcome. What I do mind is the fact that they suited me a lot better with a full head of hair. One haircut and I've gone from Clark Kent to Heston Bleeding Blumenthal!

With Hair (The Clark)
Without Hair (The Heston)

Since the crowdfunder page went live (and smashed through it's initial target in under a day, well done everyone!) I've been contacted by a few media representatives asking questions about the whole situation. The result of this was me giving an interview over the phone yesterday evening and having a photographer come to my parents house to take some photos. Now, as anyone that knows me will tell you, usually I'm all about having my photo taken. However, the current chubby face situation is having an effect on how photogenic I am and, as you can see from the photos, I look like a mildly irritated potato.

The resulting article has really surprised me, the online version ( has been shared all over the place and is currently the no1 most read news article on Wales Online. It has also been in a number of newspapers that circulate around South Wales.

The amount of support and interest has really been overwhelming, and I'm hoping we can use this to help raise some money for a few good causes as well as for my little trip down under. I'll write another post when I've got some more details about exactly who we hope can benefit from the fundraising that is going on, but we're thinking at the moment it would be good to help out some smaller, brain tumour specific charities and foundations as opposed to the larger charities that (while equally deserving of support) get a lot more attention.

Sunday 1 February 2015

Unexpected Yet Welcome Events

I was en route home from the gym yesterday when I had a message on Facebook which confused me slightly. It read something along the lines of "Hi Jamie, along with a few friends I am doing the Pen Y Fan walk and want to do it for a good cause, so could we raise money for your Aussie trip?"

This confused me mainly because I was not aware I was going to Australia. I had mentioned to my family that I was thinking of going travelling after my initial treatment as my terribly small bucket list comprises of the following:

  • Seeing the Aurora Borealis
  • Seeing a blue whale
  • Training in Japan

Luckily you can achieve all of this in a single trip if you go to Australia/New Zealand and include a stop off in Tokyo along the way. My plan was to somehow save up enough for the flights and insurance and then work in bars for a couple of months while out there to fund the trip like a standard working holiday. The issue of medication etc I would just deal with closer to the time. 

So back to yesterday and the confusing Facebook message, I then scrolled down my news feed to see the following link being shared amongst my FB friends: 

I read through the page and saw that some of my brother's housemates had set up the page and would be undertaking challenges over the next 12 months to raise money to enable me to go on the trip down under. Now the Facebook message made sense! 

Over the last 24 hours the link has been shared all over Facebook and many people have donated and offered to get involved with the challenges, the first of which is to swim the distance of the channel (rather you lads than me!). The initial target of £2000 has been hit already and I have to thank each and every person that has contributed, I never realised there was so much desire to get me out of the country for a bit!

As a final note I have to massively thank Chez, George, Josh, Box and Luke for setting all this up. Hopefully we can continue to raise funds and awareness over the next 12 months of challenges and contribute to Cancer Research along the way. As well as the all important "Let's Make Wales a Jamie Mac Free Place" Fund of course!