Thursday 18 August 2016

Gaps In Treatment Filled By The Teenage Cancer Trust

Since my last blog I have been able to have one more cycle of chemotherapy but have also had a second one delayed a couple of times due to low blood test results. Although this has meant a delay in my treatment it has also meant I have been able to attend a number of Teenage Cancer Trust events without having to worry about the increased tiredness and increased susceptibility to illness that comes with being on a chemo cycle.

Firstly I had a place on the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust trip, which would see me spending a few days helping to sail a yacht around the Isle of Wight. We began by travelling to Southampton and boarding a ferry across to Cowes on the Isle of Wight where we met up with representatives of the Trust who led the way to the Trust base for some introductions and team building exercises.

There were groups of young people from a number or areas of the U.K. which, like 'Find Your Sense of Tumour' last year, comprised people at various stages of their treatment for a variety of different cancers. Over the next three days we spent time being taught how to sail by being shown, amongst other things, how to raise and lower the sails, how to steer the boat and how we should conduct ourselves and position our bodies while out at sea.

After a day of sailing we would dock and were free to mix with the other boats to socialise with the other young people over increasingly tense games of Uno. I'm still reeling from a game on the first night where the girl to my right viciously lined me up with a number of 'pick up 4/2' cards just when I thought I was in with a shot of winning.

On one evening we anchored at an island that had been prepared for a group BBQ and, after a spin in a speedboat on the way there, all boats joined together to eat and chat. However, what we hadn't prepared for was the bug swarm of biblical proportions that surrounded us as we began to eat. If there ever was guaranteed way to ruin a burger, the risk of ingesting little flying creatures on every bite was it. Having said that, it was a highly enjoyable few days that I would recommend to anyone given the opportunity to go.

A few days after we returned from the Ellen MacArthur trip another event had been arranged by the Cardiff Branch of the Teenage Cancer Trust, a trip to the Cardiff Bay Glee Club. I was massively looking forward to this as I'm a big fan of stand up comedy and haven't got anything against free food either. I met up with the rest of the group outside the club and, after a bit of Pokemon catching, we headed inside to find our table and seats. The evening would involve three comedians as well as the compère entertaining the audience in between the acts. As part of the compères routine we were encouraged to tweet them throughout the show so that they could respond when they were on stage. Not needing much of an invitation I got my phone out and proceeded to see if I could 'poke the bear' and get one of the comedians to make some cancer jokes with the following tweet:

The Tweet That Got Us Roasted

I wasn't sure I had succeeded until we got close to the last comedian of the evening. In the gap before the act was introduced the compère began to go through tweets he had received, inevitably stopping on mine. I had been fairly confident of getting a mention as my Twitter profile practically invites abuse with my profile picture and the blue tick. As expected this was the angle the compère took to begin his roasting of me. What I had never noticed before was the exact angle he would use by pointing out the similarity of my profile photo to a famous image from the 90s. I'll put both photos below and you can judge for yourselves whether he might have had a point or not:

I Have No Idea What He Was On About...

As the accompanying music died down he asked who we were exactly and, in fairness, remained pretty confident as he continued the roasting, knowing that we were with the Teenage Cancer Trust. Although the crowd did take a second to assure themselves we were laughing and not offended before laughing at the cancer jokes themselves.

At the end of the evening a prize of four free tickets was to be awarded to someone that had filled in a competition slip on their arrival, however the girl that won hadn't stayed until the end so the comedian said "fuck them then, we'll give them to someone else", deciding to pick someone who had tweeted in instead. When he opened up Twitter my profile was still on the screen and he said "actually, shall we give them to the cancer guy?". Most of the crowd applauded this and I was given the prize of a free ticket for four to the Glee Club Cardiff. "Wait a second", the compère shouted, looking in detail at the tickets, "These tickets have a November date on them, how long do you have?". Every one of us with the TCT fell about laughing, followed a split second later by the rest of the crowd.

Since that day I have once again faced a double delay in chemo that will hopefully come to an end the week after next (blood count permitting), allowing me to begin cycle four of six and stay on track to finish treatment before the end of the year.