Saturday, 10 May 2014

I haven't cut anything as it's a great blog,by Michelle Sheridan

Hi Glenn, here's my attempt at writing something for your Blog.  I think its too long but feel free to cut from it.  Wow I've just read it - and its an epic !!!  Let me know what you think. 

xxxx
My name's Michelle and the below is a snapshot of my life since 23rd March 2014 (the date that I refer to as the 'Fate Date') to today (10 May 2014). 

Going back (briefly to set the scene) to about last Spring or Summer Lee (my husband) and I were in Stanley Front Street when Lee ushered to me to check out this bike heading our way.  Lee is a keen cyclist and always commenting on bikes and their components.  I could see the bike had really big tyres and my thoughts were 'yeah its a bike with unusally big tyres'.  As it neared us Lee remarked that it was a 'Sandman - a Fat Bike' and the tone of his voice and look on is face assured me without any doubt that what we were looking at was something special.  As it drew closer we were both staring, then as the bike and rider flew passed we noticed that the rider had an artificial leg.  Simultaneously we turned to look at each other and in silence we knew exactly what each other was thinking.  I could read Lee's mind as he thought 'That's one hell of an amazing bike' whilst at the same time we both thought 'Bloody hell that bloke's got a false leg and yet he's riding that bike like a pro !'.  We both then exchanged words to the effect of 'I hope he didn't think we were staring at his leg'.
Anyway Lee talked about this bloke on his bike all the way home, all afternoon and all night.  Lee reckoned that such a bloke riding such an amazing bike couldn't possibly be from Stanley but he pondered why this bloke was riding through Stanley Front Street.  Lee was convinced he must have been lost !
Anyway months passed and Lee saw this bloke a couple of times whilst out riding, but had never been close enough to stop and have a word.  Then one day, googling and youtub'ing Bike things, Lee came across a video of Glenn Johnstone and Lee recognised him and the bike.  He was amazed especially when he saw that Glenn had posted loads of videos.  When Lee started watching them he started to recognise loads of local areas.  We then found Glenn's blog and was amazed to see that Glenn actually lived in Stanley.
All of this resurrected Lee's fascination with Glenn.  His videos were really great quality and superbly edited.  Lee produces some of his own home videos, is a total perfectionist and the two clearly shared more than just one passion now - bikes and producing great home videos ! 
(In the style of Glenn .... this is going on longer than I had anticipated - so stick the kettle on !):
OK, cup in hand ?  Good ... I'll continue .....
Lee had always hoped that there would be someone local to him that he could go on bike rides with.  I have a bike and like the occasional ride out, but Lee and I are at opposite ends of the scale when it comes to cycling, stamina, endurance and fitness.  He really needed someone more in keeping with his own ability.  I therefore suggested that, via Glenn's blog, he send Glenn an email.  Lee isn't exactly pushy when it comes to some things - like this.  So kept finding excuses (Lee is adamant they weren't excuses and he was genuinely going to contact Glenn) but I was tired of waiting for this to happen.  So, in keeping with my own personality, I just jumped right in there and sent Glenn an email one evening when Lee was at work one night.  The email explained how Lee and I had seen Glenn (infact having read his blog and watched so many of his videos regularly in the preceding days - some might actually call it Stalking !), and how we had admired him and tried to explain how inspirational he was.  I ended by suggesting that he might like to go for a bike ride with Lee sometime.  I worded it carefully to make it easy for him to refuse in case he wasn't interested.
This was the Fate Date - 23rd March 2014.  Within an hour of sending the email I had received a response !  With anticipation I opened it, wondering what Lee's response might be when he found out, especially if Glenn had told me to naff off thinking I was some weird stranger.  Anyway I opened the email and was thrilled to see that his response was fantastic - he was thrilled at my email and was definitely up for a ride out with Lee.  I exchanged another email saying Lee would be over the moon but that he was at work and that he'd be sure to email Glenn when he was back home.
That was it - from us all meeting each other, and Glenn's friend John, we instantly hit it off and from that date to this - they've all been out on loads of bike rides and had some amazing fun (and perhaps some not such fun times .... reference:  Pickles (watch the video and it'll all make sense)).  Mostly though, they've had a great time in all weathers.

Happy days ahead.  Glenn was such an inspiration to us and as we found out more about him, we really wanted to help in any way we could.  Lee had met 2 local lads with likewise enthusiasm on cycling and general philosophies on life.  Perfect.  (In fact Lee and Glenn are so alike its uncanny .... their habits, their perfectionist idealism, their interests and the list can go on).
Well that was it - life couldn't be more perfect - or so I thought ......

Time for another cuppa ?

Now since January 2014 I had complained of a stuffy nose and congested head - exactly the same kind of symptoms you get with a head cold.  I didn't feel shivery or ill - just had what we up in the north would describe as 'a right snotty nose'.  By mid February it hadn't shifted and by now I had a blocked ear too (I'd describe this as that kind of blocked ear when you go swimming and you've got water trapped in it).  I tried all ways to release the water (as I had been regularly swimming too - so naturally thought it was trapped water).  As neither my congestion or blocked ear were improving I decided to visit the Docs.  He told me to go and take more decongestant tablets (I'd already taken a few courses) and if it hadn't shifted in 2 weeks time to return to the Docs.  Before 2 weeks was up I went back - it obviously wasn't going to shift.  The Doc referred me to a local ENT clinic.  I had to wait over 4 weeks for this appointment.  When it came the examining Doctor stuck a camera up my nose, had a good look round then into the back nasal cavity where he found 'a growth'.  He tried to reassure me and said that often these things amount to nothing but that it was important to have it checked out quickly just to be sure.  So he made a referral to a local hospital for a biopsy.
Within 2 weeks I had this appointment (23rd April 2014 - exactly 4 weeks after Fate Date) and with a little bit of nervous tredipation attended hospital for the procedure.  When I was awake from the anaesthetic and back up on the ward, feeling OK considering, and drinking lots of water the Consultant came to see me at my bed side.  He confirmed he was 'very very concerned' with what he had found.  I instantly filled with dread and he stated that he wanted to see me in 1 week when he would have the results back and he advised that my husband should be in attendance with me.
Lee was on annual leave this next week and together we spent a worrying time waiting for the results.  Whilst it was worrying, though, we somehow managed to spend that week with not one tear and filled with fun and laughter having little visits here and there - garden centres, shops and pubs (though I should make it clear I didn't drink - Lee however, clearly felt the need for a few tipples that week !).  It was a very loving time (actually it is always very loving), and I had told Lee I didn't want to spend the week in tears, moping around and feeling sorry for myself.  In hindsight we have both acknowledged how we found it hard to use the word 'Cancer' during this week.  I imagine this is something many people affected by cancer (patients and their families) find at first.
The week passed quickly and it was time to visit the hospital and receive the results.  We arrived on time and unfortunately the clinic was running late.  About an hour after our appointment time we were called into a room with the Consultant and what I now know to be a MacMillan Nurse - Kelly, who is absolutely lovely.  The Consultant asked me how I was feeling and I described this in both physical and emotional terms.  He then talked a bit (it's all actually a bit of a blur and I just don't recall any of it) other than him confirming that I had a malignant tumour - ie, cancer.  I engaged in conversation back with him and then it hit me there and then and my head fell into my hands.  Lee immediately wrapped his arms around me whilst I had some tears - actually not many - just a few - enough to release the shock of what was now confirmed.
 
After more discussion (again I don't really recall much of this) Lee and I left the hospital.  I had planned to meet my son that afternoon to update him on the results.  We wanted to do this before we told anyone else.  So we met Brynn and then made calls and sent texts to both of our families, apart from Lee's Mam who was in Cyprus.  I was adamant I didn't want her to know until she returned as I knew it would just spoil her holiday.
Around this time, we had become aware of Glenn wanting to raise money for Arctic ONE, a charity who supports abled and disabled people who have been affected by cancer to get into sport regardless of their ability.  They are keen to contribute to research that looks to identify the correlation between cancer prevention and sport and treating cancer related disease.  Glenn is being sponsored by them to receive a running blade and in return Glenn wanted to raise money for them.

So, again in my kind of way (and I suspect to the distaste of some people), I decided to announce my condition to others via facebook and wanted to use this as an opportunity to start and raise funds for Glenn and Arctic ONE and all of the other people that they support.  So in one breath I was telling everyone I had cancer and in the same breath asking them for donations.
Some people have commented how inspirational this has been and how amazing that I'm thinking of others when facing this horrific news myself.  The truth is though, that if I didn't have something positive to focus on and someone as inspirational as Glenn to admire, then psychologically I'd be in a very dark place with constant tears, feeling hopeless, pretty much alone, and desperately worried.
I had considered therefore that perhaps I am inanely selfish ! but have quickly (and thankfully) concluded that I'm not - because the truth is that Lee and I had very much wanted to help Glenn anyway - even before this disease was diagnosed.
However, I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to me to have something as positive as Glenn and Arctic ONE to focus my attention on.
So who would have known that when I sent that email to Glenn on 23rd March 2014 for nothing more than Lee to have a cycling buddy that all along I had cancer and the real fate was not in Lee having a local bloke to go on a ride with but was actually to bring us all together to help support each other in what all 3 of us are going through. 

As I type this up, Lee is out on a ride with Glenn and John and I'm encouraging Lee to do as much cycling as he can, because I know that this will help him through the emotional roller coaster he's about to embark upon and there's nothing I want more than to ensure Lee gets every bit of support he needs.   He is an amazing man that both myself and Glenn will benefit from hugely.
So I ask of anyone reading this to do just one very simple thing .............. please give £1.00 by clicking on the below link.
Proportionately speaking your donation is worth far far more than the £1.00 that will leave your pocket.  It will help, directly and indirectly:
Me
Glenn
Lee
and the 100s of people that Arctic ONE will be supporting over many years - adults, children, able bodied, disabled, parents, carers and the list goes on.
Thank you so much for donating.
Going back to my first paragraph ...... when I said that (referring to Glenn) we were undoubtedly looking at something special .... then we truly were and only now can we see just how special !
  
Thanks Glenn for all of your support.  This friendship was just meant to be. 

XXXX

Thank you for writing this fantastic blog and also for all your kind words. I'm so glad to have met both yourself and Lee and my friendship and support will be there always.

XxX

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