Guest Post – Helping Young Cancer Sufferers

Before we begin – just a note to say the 1000th blog post celebration is going here, so, you know, have a look if you fancy winning cool stuff. I’ll announce the winners tomorrow evening. Or Saturday. We’ll see.

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I’m delighted to hand the blog over to Katie Saxon today. What she’s doing is rather remarkable and I’m thrilled to be able to help in my own little way. I hope that, after reading this, you might too. So, over to you Katie…
“How Twitter is Helping Me to Support CLIC Sargent
A guest blog post from Katie Saxon, who is fundraising for CLIC Sargent, and blogging about it at www.TrekforHannah.co.uk
 nikperring 

Ooh. People are taking me up on my offer. I like it when a plan comes together. 

It started innocently enough.  I spotted a retweet on Twitter that was just begging to be clicked:
A mysterious tweet quoting The A Team, how could I resist?
And when I read the post in question, it just got better – in exchange for recommending a blog I like, I could win a Nik Perring story.  So I left my comment, safe in the knowledge that I was in with a chance of winning something awesome.
And then something entirely unexpected happened.
Nik Perring visited my blog – he read what I had to say and he liked it.  And he emailed me to see if I would like to write something for his blog.  Something to promote what I’m doing, to shine a light on my little blog.
You see, my blog is all about the work I’m doing to support CLIC Sargent.
Last year one of the most wonderful and special people I will ever meet died of a brain tumour.  Her name was Hannah, she was one of my best friends and I loved her to pieces. 
In early 2009 Hannah started to act a little strange.  At first we put it down to stress.  She had a job she hated, and worse – a boss who seemed to have it in for her.  Hannah suddenly seemed a little distant, complained of headaches and began to forget things.  Big things.  Like red traffic lights mean you have to stop driving.
We were worried, of course we were, but she was diagnosed with depression and was seeing a doctor regularly.  Looking back it seems crazy that we didn’t realise something worse was happening, but, well, you don’t like to think things like this can happen.
Then, on Tuesday 5 May 2009, I looked at my phone. 5 missed calls from Emma, Hannah’s best friend.  I had been in the shower for 10 minutes, what the hell was going on?  So I called her and was greeted by sobbing.  Hannah had had emergency surgery to remove a brain tumour.
The rest of the day was a blur of hospitals and waiting for what seemed like forever to see her.  When I finally did see her, I spoke to her for all of 5 minutes, but I’d seen she was alive, and that was all I wanted.
By the end of the week we had heard the earth shattering news – the tumour was malignant and Hannah was going to die.  The doctors gave her 6 months.
In the end she outlived their predictions, and lived for another 13 months.  She died the week after her 25th birthday – I still believe she was just too stubborn not to live til 25, just to prove those doctors wrong.
Throughout the 13 months all of her friends did all they could to help her enjoy life.  There were trips, and secret cake binges.  We pampered her, we went shopping with her, we tried to live life as if nothing had changed.
During this time Hannah always talked about a lady who would call her up to see how she was doing.  She was always a little vague about who she was – a nurse maybe, or some kind of social worker? 
She was clear that this lady was happy to gossip with her about life, whenever Hannah needed.  That the lady wanted to help her do incredible things and achieve all of her goals. 
One day, Hannah told us – absolutely horrified with herself – that she had asked the lady to arrange for her to jump out of a plane.  “It just sounded like the sort of thing you’re meant to say” she wailed “I don’t want to jump out of a plane.  Why didn’t I ask for tickets to London Fashion Week?!”
It was after Hannah died that we found out who this was.  A CLIC Sargent support worker who was assigned to help Hannah and her family in any way they needed. 
Whether it was arranging birthday treats for her in the hospice where she died, or simply talking to her parents, they were there.  It’s so clear when you talk to Hannah’s parents how much they value CLIC Sargent, and how much this charity helped them through this devastating time.
And that’s when I finally tell you what I’m doing – you’ve been patient with me so far.  CLIC Sargent is a charity that supports children and young adults with cancer.  They help young cancer sufferers to get the most from life, and to rebuild their lives if they’re lucky enough to survive.
In April 2011 I’m going to walk the Great Wall of China to raise money for this great charity.  Not all of it – just 35 miles (50km) over 5 days.  I want to raise as much money as possible for the wonderful people, who took care of someone so special without once asking for thanks or attention.
Every day 10 families in the UK are told that they have cancer.  CLIC Sargent helps each and every one, but they can only keep doing this with your support.  So please, go to www.justgiving.com/TrekforHannah and sponsor me – every penny helps. 
You might also like to read my blog www.TrekforHannah.co.uk if you want to follow my progress.   You’ll find rants on brain tumour research, which is grossly underfunded, fundraising stories and ideas.  And you’ll get an insight into the mind of a bereaved 20-something.
So without Twitter I would not be here sharing my story with you, spreading the word about CLIC Sargent and how I’m helping them.  It’s amazing where a tweet can lead you.”

5 Comments on “Guest Post – Helping Young Cancer Sufferers

  1.  by  Steve Murphy

    Very sad story as all similar stories are; they are a special breed of people who work in hospice and palliative environments, best of luck with the walk.

  2.  by  Nik Perring

    Katie – you're most welcome!Wishing you all the very best for the walk and thanks for coming on and sharing your story with us.

  3.  by  Katie Saxon

    Steve – I live in awe of the amazing work that oncology nurses, hospice workers and so on do. As you say they are a special breed and they need our support as much as we may one day need theirs.

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