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I could give back something to help support that which had done so much for me.
As a family we had, in common with many people, contributed to worthy causes. Deciding which organisation to support had often been somewhat random- each one has its own, often desperate, needs.
But sometimes you find that one particular cause comes to the fore through something you’d rather not have – a specific illness or condition requiring highly-specialised and expensive treatment. This situation can really concentrate the mind and spur one into greater efforts of fundraising.
So it was in 2014 when I found myself in just the place no-one wants to be – suffering the extreme discomfort (total understatement!) of the initial biopsy procedure for prostate cancer!
The treatment for this problem came as another shock to the system with the necessary consumption of a given quantity of water much greater than that which one might normally have – and worse, retained for a specific length of time, again much longer than normal. As if that weren’t bad enough you now have to walk, albeit not far, with an uncomfortably full bladder, climb onto the table beneath the science-fiction like LINAC machine which is going to ‘zap’ the invading cancer, AND keep still for the duration of that day’s treatment!
During the weeks of my treatment I learned of the vast cost of these machines, but in the beginning I was so focussed on the day-to-day discomforts of the procedure so I gave little thought as to whether I might be able to help. But then, as the enormity of what is involved in buying and maintaining these LINACs became apparent, I had something of a Damascene moment – I could do something, something which was fun too!
Who would think that becoming involved with an organisation such as the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund could be fun, pleasurable and a way of gaining new friends – all through adversity! Initially some levity came about through a spontaneous ‘Radio(therapy)Club’ which sprang up among a group of regulars waiting together for their turn with the LINAC. Sharing experiences gave us something else to focus on – sometimes it was taking bets as to who might ‘give-in’ first, have to dash to the loo, then be told you had to ‘top-up’ and wait another 20 minutes. Jokes were not always helpful – laughing is a problem under these circumstances! It seems completely incongruous that ‘fun’ can come into cancer treatment, but light moments are needed to lift the spirits.
But, back to that ‘Damascene’ moment and what to do to raise funds. For 7 years we had organised, in our garden, an evening of music in the form of a Last Night of the Proms concert with the Shrewsbury Light Orchestra. After a number of years raising money for another local charity we decided that this could be my ‘something to help’; I could give back something to help support that which had done so much for me.
Fundraising is hard work, so where do the ‘fun’ and ‘pleasure’ come in? One cannot deny that it is a great pleasure listening to the excellent efforts of our town’s superb amateur orchestral musicians. The fun? That comes when trying to beat the orchestra to the end of the traditional hand-clapping/foot-stamping which accompanies the Sailor’s Hornpipe’ as the musical director, Peter Road-Knight whips the orchestra to a frenzy. We have almost beaten them; there’s always room for improvement! What more could you want with the enthusiastic waving of Union Jacks, singing ‘Rule Britannia’ and ‘Jerusalem’ at the top of your voice and a picnic and drink with family and friends – it’s terrific; I’ll leave marathon running to the experts!
I can’t leave this story without some final serious thoughts. For all the ability of the LINAC to treat some cancers, it would be impossible without the dedication and expertise of the wonderful staff who, day after day, have to repeat the same delicate procedures; constantly reassuring anxious patients whilst remaining cheerful and efficient, which does so much to help patients in their darker moments.
Adopting the stance of an ostrich is no help to anyone. We need to look up, look forward and come up with new and different ideas for fun and entertainment to help part people from their hard-earned cash to help support the efforts of all the dedicated medics, scientists and others, whatever their roles, who work so hard in the battle to beat cancer.
In a paraphrase of the appointment letters which we receive from the Lingen Davies Centre, may I say a huge thank-you to – ‘Dr. Srihari and all the members of the team’ – for all the work you do and the support that you give.
Tom Kaye and able assistant Julie Kaye!
Mark organised his first fundraiser in 2016 and it is now an annual event.
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