Thank you London

I did it, I made it, I got around the London Marathon on 26 April 🙂

The year before I was undergoing chemotherapy, and when I crossed the finish line and then for the hour or so afterwards it was very emotional. It hit me harder than I had imagined that the silly idea I had had whilst lying in a hospital bed unable to feel one of my arms due to the drugs I was receiving, had actually come to fruition. Forget the time (just over 5 hours, slowest ever by a long way), this wasn’t about that, but just getting to the finish line, and having the medal around my neck. Also, and just as important, is the fact that we have raised over £4,100 for bowel cancer charities.
with London Marathon medal
Thanks also to the team at Bowel Cancer UK for looking after me when I finished. I really needed the cups of tea, slabs of cake and the four-hands massage!

I now have the t-shirt as well to show I finished it:
Finshers t-shirt

But time moves on, and the desire to continue running, both for my own benefit, but also to use something that (most times) I enjoy to help others is still with me.

To this end I have entered, at the end of June a half-marathon, and along with some friends, around the lovely city of Novi Sad, at night. This one is just for me, so that I know I can still get around 21 km, and hopefully improve on my post-cancer best time of 1 hour 47 minutes.
6nm_baner_600x240_eng

Before this though I have more medical tests at the end of May, I hope they too will come back as clear so it stays post-cancer!

I also have another charity run planned in September, but this event in Anglesey is SO BIG it deserves its own post…

 

800 km up

800 km – this is the recorded distance I have run since my chemotherapy finished last September, as training for the London Marathon​ which takes place in exactly one week’s time.

800km-running

Please support my charity efforts,
£8 / €8 / $8 / 800 RSD for the 800 km would be fantastic 🙂

http://justgiving.com/neil4bc
http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/neil4bc
or (if in UK) text BOCA99 £8 to 70070

All monies raised go to help bowel cancer charities in the UK, Serbia and across Europe.

A

5,000,000 mm Fun Run/Walk on 18 April in Belgrade

5,000,000 mm Fun Run/Walk on 18 April in Belgrade

On Saturday 18 April 2015 is the Belgrade Marathon, one week and a day before the London Marathon that I will be taking part in.

In addition to the full and half marathons on the 18th there is also a 5 km Free Fun Run, or you can think of it as only 5,000 m/500,000 cm or even 5,000,000 mm.

Come along, with family and friends, and enjoy the atmosphere and the event itself. We aim to have separate groups for those who want to run, and those who want to walk around the course.

We are meeting in Pionirski Park around 9:40 am (in the section between Pionirski Park/Trg Nikola Pašić, and the road entrance to the City Hall).

The 5 km Run starts at 10:05 am, just after the start of the marathon race.

This isn’t a fundraising event but more of an awareness of event – come and show your support, as well as enjoy the event. As this finishes by Hotel Moscow you will be well placed to see those who have run the full and half-marathons finish, whilst sipping on a well earned drink in one of the numerous cafés around Terazije.

The Facebook event page can be found at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/813761108678172/ – do join up and see you there 🙂

5 km fun run

SWAD restaurant – Sat 14 Mar

If you are in Belgrade on Saturday 14 February March (date change) do reserve seats at Swad – Taste of India restaurant.

There is a special meal and the evening will be in support of this charity campaign.

Mini-raffle and a belly dancer to entertain you.

From 8 pm at Djusina 10 – reserve your place on 011 3220368 🙂

swad-poster6

Ljubljana half marathon

Ljubljana half marathon

As part of my training for the London marathon next April I have entered the Ljubljana half marathon on Sunday 26 October.

As this is being written there rare less than 10 days until the event:
Ljubljana marathon website

My bib number will be:
Ljubljana bib number

First race since the Belgrade half marathon in 2007, and with limited training due to still having numb fingers and toes so we’ll have to see how it goes. The aim is just to get to the end of the race, as well as enjoy the sights of Ljubljana as haven’t been there before (will fly in on Saturday early and fly out Sunday late) 🙂

Three Carrots report

Many thanks to all who came along to “Charity Runner Neil‘s” first fundraiser event to help bowel cancer charities on Wednesday 27 August to fill The Three Carrots Irish Pub 🙂

The poster, designed by Rushka Jonjic, the art teacher at my school, exemplified what the whole event was about and was a great:

The Three Carrots Event poster

The Three Carrots Event poster

 

I am thrilled that we raised just over €750 (£600/88,000 RSD) which was a great effort by friends who came along and helped via the following:
Raffle – tickets of 100 RSD each with a dozen prizes
Sweepstake – what time will “Charity Runner Neil” finish the London Marathon
Clothing – ordering exclusive polo shirts, t-shirts and caps
Drinks – Special drinks which the pub then made a donation

A picture show of this event can be seen on Flickr – https://www.flickr.com/photos/neil4bc/sets/72157646157323783/show/.
Many thanks to Goran Kostic (mob: 0641139516) for coming along and taking the photos.

Thanks also are due to Wendy, Jules, Philo, Alex and James for ably assisting with ensuring the smooth transition of attendees money from their wallets to the charity envelopes as they took part in the events.

And thanks also to those who donated some amazing prizes for the raffle:

  1. Meal for 2 at Le Teniza Restaurant
  2. Meal for 2 at Talas Restaurant
  3. Personally signed (on the night) copies of Yvo Kühling’s “Belgrade Bites
  4. Copy of Andy Townend’s “belgradestreets” book
  5. Copy of Komshe’s “Belgrade in your hands
  6. Qutie Designs voucher x2
  7. Three Carrots polo shirt plus keyring x2
  8. Signed copy of Matthew Palmer’s “The American Mission
  9. Masterclass lesson at the Balkan Chilli Festival

Pictures of many of the above prizes can be seen on the Pinterest page – http://www.pinterest.com/neil4bc/fundraising-events/

Thanks are also due to Komshe and English Book for sponsoring the roll-ups, and also to Betex and 3P Learning for their sponsorship of the t-shirts.
And final thanks to the team at The Three Carrots Pub who offered to help with an event before I had even planned any events, and then went out of their way to ensure that everything worked on the night; well done to you all!

*****
Next event on September 26, from 7 pm, at the Canadian Club – see you there 🙂

Tumor-hemoterapija-Londonski maraton

Tumor – hemoterapija – Londonski maraton – etape mog života…

Prošao sam prvo, primam drugo i stremim ka trećem; to je trenutno moj život, život Britanca, direktora škole u Srbiji.

U januaru ove godine dijagnostifikovan mi je tumor. Početkom januara sam otišao kod doktora jer je broj tableta antacida (kreda), koje sam uzimao, postajao pomalo blesav. U prethodnih šest meseci dogurao sam, od jedne sedmično, do jedne posle svakog obroka. Ali, delovale su, a voditi školu i imati veliku porodicu značilo je da, dok god deluju i pomažu kod stomačnih problema, svako drugo tekuće pitanje može da sačeka dok ne postane baš ozbiljno. Bilo je malo krvi, vrlo malo u stolici. Doktorka me saslušala i predložila CT skener, rendgen i kolonoskopiju, možda i gastroskopiju, ako kolonoskopija ne pokaže ništa. I tako sam sledeće sedmice ponovo došao, nakon što sam prethodni dan proveo čisteći sistem, te obavio sve testove. U roku od 5 minuta kolonoskopskog pregleda doktorka mi je rekla da imam veliki tumor koji mora što pre da se operiše. Našla je i neke polipe. To je trenutak u kojem vam se život menja…

Za manje od nedelju dana moja supruga i ja smo se sastali sa hirurgom i dogovorili se da operacija bude iduće sedmice u Bel Medicu u Beogradu. Svi zaposleni u školi su hteli da znaju ko će da me operiše jer u Srbiji postoje nepisane liste vodećih hirurga! Svi su čuli za mog i rekli mi da je on jedan od dvojice koju bi i sami poželeli.

Operacija je dobro prošla, sve je odstranjeno i poslano na biopsiju kako bi se ustanovilo da li su tumor/polipi benigni ili maligni. Nakon dve sedmice oporavka u bolnici otpušten sam sa vrlo kratkim spiskom onoga što mogu da jedem do kraja meseca, dok mi se stomak i donji trakt ne oporave.

Posle nedelju dana video sam se sa hirurgom koji mi je rekao da su rezultati stigli i da su ćelije kancerozne. S obzirom na to gde su se nalazile, smatrao je da treba da idem na hemoterapiju za rak debelog creva (colon) i preporučio doktora specijalistu u toj oblasti. E, sad vam se život ne samo menja nego se gotovo obrušava na vas…

Moja sreća je što imam veliku podršku supruge. Direktori u mojoj školi su me takođe podržali i bili uz mene, uprkos činjenici da ću 8 meseci biti na bolovanju i raditi pomalo od kuće, kad i koliko mogu.

Mnogi ljudi su čuli za hemoterapiju, srećom mnogo manji broj ju je i iskusio.

Supruga i ja smo se sastali sa doktorom (onkologom) specijalistom za hemoterapiju koji nam je objasnio da imam kancer III stadijuma (od moguća IV) ali i da je dobra vest da nema indikacija da se proširio na druge organe.

Evo nemedicinske verzije onoga kroz šta prolazim svake dve nedelje u toku šest meseci tretmana hemoterapijom (čiji je cilj da uništi mikroskopske ćelije raka koje bi mogle ostati nakon hirurškog uklanjanja tumora i da smanji mogućnost njegovog ponovnog javljanja): primam intravenozno hemoterapiju preko kanule (cevčice postavljene u venu na nadlanici/zglobu). Lekovi koje primam dolaze pod nazivom FOLFOX5 (Fluorouracil + Leucovorin + Oxaliplatin). 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) sa Leucovorinom predstavlja standardni tretman za pacijente sa III stadijumom tumora. Oxaliplatin je hemoterapijski lek – jedinjenje platine koji za nuspojavu ima perifernu neuropatiju. To je poremećaj koji u ruci izaziva osećanje peckanja i trnjenja. Primećujem ga i tokom tretmana u bolnici i kod kuće. Hladnoća ga naglo izaziva. Jednom sam se zaboravio i posegnuo za kutijom sladoleda iz zamrzivača, ispustio sam je iste sekunde jer su mi obe ruke odmah jako utrnule. Prošlo je posle nekih 30-ak minuta, ali nije bilo nimalo prijatno. Kad primam terapiju, ruka kroz koju je primam je jednostavno neupotrebljiva, pa, kad hoću da se služim laptopom, upuštam se u avanturu sporog kuckanja jednim prstom.

Rutina u bolnici je vrlo jednostavna. Analize krvi i urina, potom EKG. Ako je sve u redu, tretman može da počne. Tri sata Oxaliplatina, dva sata Leucovorina, 30 minuta intenzivnog doziranja 5-FU, praćenog 22-časovnim 5-FU tretmanom. Onda opet EKG. Pa se doze Leucovorina i 5-FU ponavljaju i, kad je to gotovo, još jedan EKG pre nego što odem kući. Pedeset dva sata infuzije u toku dva i po dana. Onda mi treba oko tri dana kod kuće da se oporavim i tad sam veoma letargičan. Naredne sedmice počnem da se vraćam u naizgled normalno stanje, iako se lako umaram ako išta radim, a onda opet u bolnicu na sledeću terapiju.

Sve u svemu, nije baš zabavno; bolje od alternative, ali, ipak, jedva čekam avgust kad će terapija da se završi. Zato što tad humanitarni rad stupa na scenu.

Početkom aprila sam čuo za akciju „Petak u fudbalskom dresu“ (Football Shirt Friday), koja prikuplja novac za organizaciju „Istraživanje raka debelog creva“ (Bowel Cancer Research) preko Fonda Bobbyja Moorea (The Bobby Moore Fund). Odlučio sam da pomognem, postavim „justgiving“ (prikupljanje donacija) internet stranicu i obavestim prijatelje. U sledećih par nedelja sam prikupio ukupno 1200 funti.

Za to vreme sam, kao i svake godine, gledao Londonski maraton. Gledam ga svake godine i prisećam se 2002. i 2000. kad sam i sam učestvovao. Divno je biti deo takvog događaja. Samo trčanje među tolikim ljudima, u gužvi, bez obzira na to za koje vreme i gde stignete, predstavlja fantastično iskustvo. Čim počnu da primaju prijave ja već sledeće sedmice pošaljem svoju. A onda svakog oktobra dobijem e-mail kojim mi se saopštava da nisam uspeo. Do tada moj početni entuzijazam opadne pod svakodnevnim pritiskom i stresom i uvek se pitam šta bi bilo da jesam. U poslednjih osam godina, otkako živim izvan svoje zemlje i prijavljujem se iz inostranstva, nikad nisam uspeo. Ali sad se moj život promenio.

Sad želim da moja prijava bude prihvaćena, zato što želim da iskoristim ovaj događaj da pomognem drugima kojima bi moglo da se desi da obole od raka debelog creva. Nije nimalo prijatno, predstavlja ogromne, iznenadne promene ne samo u životu obolelog nego i onih oko njega, njegove porodice, a jamislim da imam sreće jer su mi prognoze veoma pozitivne. Prijavio sam se i za „Golden Bond“ mesto (poseban sistem prijavljivanja rezervisan za humanitarne organizacije) sa organizacijom „Bowel Cancer UK“ (Rak debelog creva UK) u slučaju da opet ne uspem (što je statistički vrlo moguće), jer minimalna donacija koju zahtevaju, sa motivacijom koju imam i prijateljima koji nude pomoć, čine to izvodljivim.

Dosta sam trčao do unazad nekoliko godina i istrčao Londonski maraton i znam šta me čeka i koji nivo treninga je potreban. Moj cilj je da prođem što bezbolnije ovog puta, a ne da jurim vlastiti rekord i sagorim usput.

I dok želim da pomognem drugima, fokusiranje na nešto ovakvo, pomaganje drugima da manje pate, stremljenje ka nečemu tako posebnom ima jako pozitivan psihološki efekat na mene samog.

S grupom odličnih prijatelja, profesionalaca, organizujem seriju događaja kako bismo prikupili novac, a za kraj avgusta planiramo ozbiljan početak rada putem društvenih mreža i direktnih kontakata.

Molim vas da pratite ovaj blog i moj napredak u ostvarenju ovog cilja – oporavak od raka debelog creva i učešće na Londonskom maratonu iduće godine (vidi sidebar pri dnu) i, ako ste u mogućnosti da pomognete donacijom, kliknite na oznake na sidebaru (aktivne su i možete da donirate iako sami događaji za prikupljanje novca nisu još otpočeli).

Hvala vam što čitate moj blog.

Možete me pratiti i na @neil4bc i koristiti hashtag #neil4bc

Tumour-Chemo-London Marathon

Tumour->Chemo->London Marathon – my life’s route…

I’m over the first, receiving the second and aiming for the third; that’s my current life as a British expat School Principal living in Serbia.

In January this year I was diagnosed with a tumour. I went to see a doctor at the start of this January because the number of antacid tablets (chalk) that I was using was getting a bit silly. In the six months previous I had gone from one a week to one after any meal. But they worked and running a school and having a large family meant as it worked and relieved my stomach problems then any underlying issues could be put off until it becomes serious. There was also some blood, very minor in my stools. The doctor listened and suggested a CT scan, xrays and a colonoscopy, with possibly gastroscopy if nothing came from the colonoscopy. So the following week I came back for that having spent the day before cleaning out my system and had all the tests done. Within 5 minutes of the colonoscopy the doctor told me I had a large tumour that would need operating on soon, and she also found some polyps. That’s the moment your life changes…

Less than a week later my wife and I had met a surgeon and and arranged for the operation to take place the following week at Bel Medic in Belgrade. All the staff at the school wanted to know who would be the surgeon as in Serbia there are unwritten league tables! Every one of them had heard of mine and told me ha was one of the only two they would want as well.

The operation went well, everything removed and sent off for biopsies to determine if the tumour/polyps were benign or malignant. I spent two weeks recuperating in hospital and then discharged with a very short list of things I could eat for the rest of the month whilst my stomach and below recovered.

Then I had a meeting with the surgeon a week later who told me that the results had come back and that the cells were cancerous. Given their location it was his opinion that I should receive chemotherapy for bowel (colon) cancer and he would arrange for me to meet with the doctor who specialised in this area. Now your life not only changes but it almost comes crashing down on you…

I am fortunate that I have a very supportive wife.  The Directors at my school have also supported and worked with me, even though I will be on 8 months sick leave, doing some work at home as and when I can.

Many people have heard about chemotherapy, fortunately far fewer experience it.

My wife and I met with the doctor (oncologist) specialising in chemotherapy who explained that I had Stage III cancer (out of max. IV stages) but the good news was that there was no indication that it had spread to any other organs.

Here’s a non-medical version of what I have to go through every two weeks for six month of adjuvant chemotherapy (the aim being to destroy any microscopic cancer cells that may remain after the tumourous cancer is removed by surgery and reduce the possibility of the cancer returning): I have intravenous chemotherapy via a cannula (a small tube inserted into a vein on the back of my hand/wrist). The drugs I receive come under the heading of FOLFOX5 (Fluorouracil + Leucovorin+ Oxaliplatin). 5-Fluorouracil (5-FU) with Leucovorin, is the standard treatment for patients with Stage III tumours. Oxaliplatin is a platinum compound chemotherapy drug, and causes the side effect of peripheral neuropathy. This is a change in sensation in the hand and arm, a burning or pins and needles. I notice this during the treatment as well as at home. Cold kicks it off, once forgot and picked up a tub of ice-cream from the freezer, dropped it within a second as both my hands and lower arms instantly started buzzing badly with what felt like a severe case of pins and needles. It went after 30 minutes or so but wasn’t nice. When I’m receiving the treatment the arm receiving the fluids is basically unusable, so if I want to use my laptop it a slow one-fingered affair.

In hospital there is a very simple routine. Blood and urine tests are run, followed by an ECG. If no problems then the treatment can begin. 3 hours of Oxaliplatin, 2 hours of Leucovorin, 30 minutes intense dose of 5-FU, followed by 22 hours of 5-FU. Then another ECG. The Leucovorin and 5-FU doses are then repeated, and once it’s all over a final ECG before I can go home. 52 hours of infusions over two and a half days. It then takes around three days at home to get over it and I am very lethargic during this time. The following week start to return o some semblance of normality, though become very tired easily if I do anything active, then back to the hospital for the next session.

So, all in all, not much fun; better than the alternative, but still roll on August when the treatments finish. Which is why the charity work comes in.

At the start of April I heard about Football Shirt Friday, raising money for Bowel Cancer Research via The Bobby Moore Fund. I decided to help, set up a justgiving page and let friends know. In total within the next couple of weeks I’d raised over £1200.

During this time I watched, as I do every year, the London Marathon. Each year I watch and reminisce about when I ran it in 2002 and 2000. It is such an amazing event to be part of. Running with so many others and the crowds mean the whole event, no matter what time you get or where you come, make it just such a fantastic experience. As soon as the ballot opens the following week I enter. Then every October I receive an email saying I was unsuccessful. By this time my initial enthusiasm has abated due to the daily pressures and stress of life and I always wonder what would happen if I was successful. In the last eight years as an expat entering via the overseas entry I have never been successful. But now my life has changed.

Now I do want the ballot to be successful, because I want to use the event to help others who could suffer from Bowel Cancer in the future. It’s not nice, it makes massive, sudden changes not only to your own life but to those around you, none more so than your immediate family, and I feel that I am fortunate as the prognosis for me is very good. I’ve also applied for a Golden Bond place with Bowel Cancer UK as well in case I am unsuccessful (statistically very likely again), as the, minimum donation they want with the motivation I have and the friends who have offered to help make this eminently feasible.

Having done a lot of running up until a few years ago and completing London before I know what to expect and the level of training required. My goal is to get round comfortably this time, not to go for my record and blow up part of the way around.

And whilst I want to help others focusing on something like this; helping others so they suffer less than you whilst aiming for something that is so special has such a positive psychological effect on myself.

A group of excellent, very professional friends and I are putting together a series of events to raise money, and using many forms of social media and direct contact will start this in earnest from the end of August.

Please follow this blog and my progress in achieving the goal of bouncing back from bowel cancer and running next year’s London Marathon (see the bottom of sidebar) and if you can help with a donation the buttons are on the sidebar (things are active so you can donate now but fundraising events haven’t started yet).

Thanks for reading.

You can also follow me @neil4bc and use the hashtag #neil4bc 🙂