Saturday, 11 August 2012

A Sad Few Weeks and a Seven Thousand Mile Journey

The last few weeks have been a sad few weeks for me, with the loss of two close friends, Rory and David. Just so people know this is going to be a sad one but please keep reading.

Rory was 15 when he was diagnosed with leukaemia in late 2009. Of all the people I've met through cancer I think Rory was the one who had the worst side effects of treatment. He was also one of the bravest. His chemotherapy failed at first and he had to undergo a bone marrow transplant. For this he was in hospital for 6 months straight and was kept in isolation. Rory was always looked after by his Dad, Darren, and they were both exceptional. Whatever came their way they took it in their stride. Rory had been on the ward long before I had so he was always there to provide advice and to encourage me to get out of bed and do stuff rather than sit around feeling sorry for myself! He always made me feel better about my situation, when he was in a worse one. The radiation therapy had damaged his hips, meaning he needed to have a double hip replacement but until this he was confined to a wheelchair. By May 2011, Rory was out of hospital and attempting to get back to a normal life, or as near to normal as was possible. He was still very ill, having to come in for weeks at a time with infections. By this time I had finished on the ward but I came to see him every time I was in Leeds. I saw how ill he still was and by all accounts it really upset me, but every time he wouldn't let me feel sorry for him. He still fought on as best he could in his day to day battle. He was absolutely mad about football too, every time I came in he'd be watching it on the big TV! He was a Huddersfield lad so naturally he supported Huddersfield Town and followed them religiously!
Rory in early 2011.

It was in November 2011 that he was readmitted to the ward for shingles. He had a very bad case because of his weakened immune system and it'd caused him to lose his eyesight. Now not only was he in a wheelchair, he was blind. This sadly meant he was unable to watch his beloved football. Christmas 2011 was his third Christmas spent in hospital. Every time I was in for scans Rory was always prove to be a source of inspiration for me. A lot of times when I've feared doing something Rory has been a source of strength for me. He's pushed me onwards and upwards and always made me strive for the best. I remember talking to him one time and he telling me to remember that I'd had a rough time! This was while I was helping him from his wheelchair to a reclining chair! I think this shows just how selfless he was! He was a true gentleman by all standards, always putting others before himself. He never wanted to cause anyone any hassle.

On the 2nd of July 2012, Rory and his Dad finally got out of hospital and managed to go home. Due to Rory being blind they'd had to move to a new flat, specially adapted. Sadly on the 15th of July, Rory passed away in his sleep. In the words of his Dad, he didn't only lose his son, he lost his best friend.
Rory and his Dad, at Huddersfield Town Stadium for his 18th.
Of all the things Rory did in his life, he's made me see many things differently. He's made me realise life is for living. That life isn't for sitting around moaning, it's for going out and doing. For enjoying what you have rather than complaining about what you don't. Nothing lasts forever so make the most of what you have. Make the most of your friends and family, don't wait until it's too late to tell someone that you love and value them.

My other friend who sadly passed away was David Boulton. David had the same type of cancer as me, in the same place and with similar spread. When I first met him we were introduced by a nurse on the new TCT ward at Castle Hill. The nurses thought I'd be a useful person for him to speak to because I'd been through all the treatment. I remember being surprised at how bloody big he was! David loved rugby and played for Lambwath Lions. He was a big guy with a big heart. The turnout at his funeral proved this! Sadly David didn't respond to treatment and the cancer continued to spread. I last saw him at Castle Hill on the 15th of July. He sadly died on the 18th of July. He was always brave and always looked on the bright side of everything. I remember when I first went to speak to him he asked if we could go on the nintendo wii to make it a bit less formal! He was always a laugh and a great guy. He'll be truly missed by his family and friends. 

The last time I saw him I was considering doing a skydive for charity. I've now decided that when I eventually do the skydive it will be in memory of Rory and David. 

I'd also like to use this blog post to draw some attention to someone from my village who is doing a bike ride to India in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust. Peter Smallwood is 23 and he was previously working in Leeds at Science Warehouse, until he decided to take on the challenge of cycling to India. He's expecting to be in Istanbul by early September and to have reached India by early January. As you all know any money donated will go towards helping young people such as Rory and David. This money is so vital. 

I'm sorry that this post has been so sad and hopefully the next one will be more positive. I do think that everyone can learn a lot when people pass away. Instead of just mourning the fact they've left us, I like to try and think what they gave to me, be it knowledge or inspiration or just happy memories. I'll never forget the laughs I had and the memories I hold. I'll miss them both so much. 

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