Blowing My Own Trombone

Here’s another blog brought to you by post-chemo steroids.  I wonder if they’ve brought on some performance-advancing advantages.  I don’t feel like doing much moving today, but my brain is ticking over incredibly quickly for me; many and varied thoughts are occurring simultaneously.

One is on the subject of a lovely email informing me that I’ve been nominated for a JustGiving award.  That at least one person thinks my fundraising efforts (Over £12,000 so far raised for Macmillan Cancer Support!) are worthy of particular praise is a real boost.  It occurs to me that I don’t have a lot of rich friends or wealthy benefactors and am not seeking out corporations wishing to make themselves look good or get some sports-washing in.  So I suppose I’ve felt the need to augment the main focus of running the London Marathon whilst playing the trombone and plug, plug, plug away.

Looking back at the events and endeavours that have happened over the past year or so really fills me with pride.  It’s involved setting up a website so it’s easier for people to remember than a generic charity page.  I’ve (fairly) regularly updated it with blogs like this and made enough media appearances to require a whole page full of links.  It’s the most gratifying feeling to hear that complete strangers have donated purely on the strength of what I’ve said and done, plus the intent to do more.  In addition to the ongoing nagging, there have been a load of specific events driving thousands of pounds in donations at a time.

But what makes me feel a little awkward about being personally acknowledged like this is that my ongoing fundraising campaign is the hugest team effort.  Putting the website together has required the gift of time and from a group of web developers, artists, filmmakers and social media experts all working for free because they’re kind and generous people.  Likewise those who have helped me put on events including my 100 mile comeback as well as concerts/cake sales including such disperate groups as the John Ongom Big Band, Pavilion Brass, New Redbridge Wind Orchestra and East London Runners.  All of these offers of support were unsolicited and raised a good deal of money.  But I can’t put it strongly enough all the way through, it’s not just been about raising funds for a good cause.

All the philanthropic effort, events and publicity are really about something far closer to my heart.  Raising awareness.  Donating the proceeds of a raffle at a concert is great, but more than that, I’ve utilised the opportunity to stand up and say ‘thank you’ to also get in some really, REALLY important public health messaging.  For example, the average age for a community brass band concert tends to be well over the age for bowel screening and over a third of these very simple tests are unreturned.  I am living proof that by the time you present yourself to your GP with symptoms, it could well be too late. This little poo stick FIT test could save your life.  Feeling fine doesn’t somehow protect you from cancer.

Likewise, for younger people, there is a definite tendency to feel reluctant or too busy to get checked out.  Yes I waited far long from GP referral to treatment, but could have helped myself by being more pushy.  I’m quite lucky in this regard.  I’ve heard many stories of young people with caner symptoms being turned away as time wasters and not just falsely reassured (as I was) that I was too young to have cancer.  I had to list off all the common symptoms including an increasingly pronounced change of bowel habit, unexplained fatigue and blood in my poo.  I had to say my mother had died of the same cancer and, no matter how unlikely my age and health made a cancer diagnosis, really wished to take the tests.

I suppose this is just my rambling way of saying that Justgiving have encouraged me to encourage donations, which is why I’ve put links on the homepage of this gorgeous website (thanks team!). I’m also going to commit the most astoundingly unBritish act and nominate myself. I’m sure they’ve been told the what but I’m going to do my best to communicate the why.  The words above aren’t just any old words.  They represent a genuinely heartfelt purposeful mission and what I intend to make my short life’s work.  I’ve said this many, many times already and am unashamed to emphatically state them again for the record.  I would consider mine a life well lived if my words and deeds prompted someone to find an early diagnosis and save their life.  Stage 1 bowel cancer survival rates stand at around 90%. Stage 4 bowel cancer death rates are 90%. I’m in the second category. It’s too late for me, but not for you.

Yes I’d love to be invited to another glamorous awards ceremony and I hope my story is enough to impress the JustGiving judging panel.  But this award nomination means so much more than that.  It’s another chance to really, really, make a noise.  And for that you’re welcome to call me a shameless self-promoter or come to that that, any name under the sun.

Because I don’t just want to be someone.  I want to to do something and there isn’t much time left, so I’m going for it.

1 Comment

  1. So delighted to hear you have been nominated for a Just Giving Award. I had a friend many years ago who died at home but supported by MacMillan Nurses. This is a very worthy cause.


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