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Sunday, 10 July 2016

Rare Laid Bare (Surviving and Striving)

🏥 Art from Cancer Hospital 🏥

      (Sarcoma Survival Story) 

SARCOMA AWARENESS WEEK is from the 4th-10th July 2016 and I wanted to take part by showing a diary extract below I found and wrote at the time when first getting a benign tumour at 18 and also a timeline to show how many health professionals I had to see before being diagnosed with a type of Sarcoma when I was only 21.

My Sarcoma journey is slightly different because not only was my cancer Osteosarcoma it turned into a Primary Bone Cancer which means the cancer started in the bones first.  It was also rare because it grew from a benign tumour and it was in my spine (Up to L4) and in my sacrum until it transformed into cancer after just three years. My Orthopaedic Consultant said he had only seen one other patient in his working career where a benign tumour had turned cancerous. 

"Pain pain pain. why me, doesn't enter my head but why now? I just want to reschedule the pain to a time that's convenient to me. If only life was that simple. You see I don't hate my pain and I'm not in love with it either but we have a special bond. The pain is constant, twenty-four-seven, seven days a week, no let up even my sleep is scared of my pain.

 My story of how I met my pain had started many years ago. We were introduced by my leg who on the night of the 4th April 2005 had begun to hurt and I begun to limp. By the end of the week it was still there and unknown to me I had a drop foot but I soldiered on. Every tick of the clock the ache got stronger and stronger. It was draining my energy this thing that was inside of me and taking my essence, my life. I knew something was wrong but not that. The pain at night became unbearable, it was torture, like a dripping tap hitting a sink.that needed to be fixed but instead it was me that needed to be fixed. So I took my pain to find help and support but in reality what I found was a bit different.

 The college nurse said that if my pain persisted to go to my GP as she did not see anything to be concerned about. As the words left her lips I knew that this pain was not going to get better. This is just the second week and I find myself in pain limping into the local walk-in-clinic to see another nurse. In the waiting room I was nervous that they might say that something is wrong, it felt like hours before I was called. I wondered what the other people were here for or whether they were in as much pain as I was. If only we could tell just by looking at someone if their health is in danger and warn them. Pain is also a helper and it's telling you there is something wrong, so go and get checked out! I'm still in the waiting room and more new patients come through the doors.

My name is called and I am now having difficulties getting up from a chair!  I limp slowly after the nurse to her room. She asked me a series of questions and then she examined me. The examination consisted of me kneeling on a chair, (really I was) The nurse checked the back of my legs and reassured me that I do not have a DVT, that's' a relief.....NOT!   I know my own body. This brings me onto Pain's sibling called "Referred Pain" which means that the pain you feel in your leg comes from somewhere else! (Is this for real?) The nurse gave me some tablets for the pain and sent me on my limping way but unfortunately for me the tablets did not do a thing and this intense pain was very scary. Walking with a limp is exhausting, pain is exhausting and telling a professional is exhausting. The tiredness is so overwhelming you can not sleep, you have to wake up earlier to go to college because you are so slow because of the limping. I couldn't run anymore and I began to get cramp in my legs a lot so I bought banana's (thinking I was low in potassium) but they did not work, nor did the heat rub I bought and it stank.

 Being young in the cancer world is sometimes fraught with danger with a delayed diagnoses and unfortunately it was the same for me! Crossing the road was so dangerous for me and when a friend thought I had broken my foot it was indeed time to go back to the professionals. The same nurse I saw last week.

Now into my third week and on my return to the Walk-in-clinic yet again. I was no longer concentrating at college and the nurse advised to go else where ...the GP.  The GP said to come back in two weeks if it is persisting. The same day I ended up in our local A & E and the reason was I had sneezed and my back jared and I was now dragging my leg and that is why I ended up in A & E.
They gave me tablets and sent me home. The next day I begun to get pins and needles in my legs and things did not feel the same so we called an ambulance. They were not going to take me because in their opinion I was not letting the tablets from yesterday's A & E trip work. My Mum insisted. I forgot to mention I could hardly walk now. This A & E trip was no better, no tests of any kind was performed and the doctor was rude when he grabbed my stomach and said you need to tighten this up and do some swimming.  My brother's carried me up the stairs and I stayed on the floor until I saw a physio who we had to pay for. She knew as soon as she saw me that something was seriously wrong and I was sent to my GP that day as she had called ahead.

At this point being misdiagnosed with M.S. was a relief as it meant I was to be rushed into the hospital that day. I was found to have a mass in my sacrum and spinal column (Cauda equina syndrome) and could have been paralysed.

"Cauda equina syndrome requires emergency hospital admission and emergency surgery, because the longer it goes untreated, the greater the chance it will lead to permanent paralysis and incontinence." - NHS Choices

For me it was life changing, mentally and physically."

This then leads us onto the actual timeline below showing what had lead up to my benign tumour and then my bone cancer in my sacrum.


12/04/05 - Saw College Nurse.

13/04/05 - Saw Nurse in Minor Injuries Centre.

21/04/05 - Saw Nurse again at Minor Injuries Centre.

25/04/05 - Saw my local GP for the first time.

25/05/05 - Went to A+E just before 9pm, I fell on to concrete and I heard a snapping sound.

26/05/05 - Called Ambulance and went to A+E.

31/05/05 - Saw physio (I had to pay for) who then emailed/rang my GP straight away about she discovered.

01/06/05 - Saw another GP at my local Doctors and got a second opinion - Referred to a specialist Neurologist.

08/06/05 - Received appointment letter from local Hospital which was too late, as it arrived on the day of the actual appointment and was sent by 2nd class. 

15/06/05 - Saw Consultant Neurologist in Clinic at 9:30am 
- About an hour later got phone call from registrar from another Hospital to come into the Neurology Ward
 - By the evening had a MRI, Cat Scan, Chest scan etc.

17/06/05 - In the morning, I was told results and that I had a tumour in my spine
- I had an angiogram later that day.

20/06/05 - Had Ultrasound - found out I had Cyst on my right ovary too.

21/06/05 - Registrar told me about Operation.

22/06/05 - Day I had Surgery
- Partial removal of tumour 
- Biopsy taken
- Bone Graft (taken from my hip)
- Aspiration of Right Ovarian Cyst.

07/07/2005 - I was in hospital when the 7/7 bombing occurred.

11/07/05 - Discharged from Hospital.

27/07/05 - Letter about Ankle Foot Support 
- Appointment 11th August 2005 - When I went to Physio, I had realised they ordered the same plastic brace I already had and didn't need.

29/07/05 - Appointment with GP for more medication.

02/08/05 - Physio.

04/08/05 - Physio.

08/08/05 - Physio. 

10/08/05 - Physio.

12/08/05 - Physio.

11/08/05 - Ankle Support Appointment.

07/09/05 - Gave Thank you card to Neurologist who discovered tumour. 

20/09/05 - Follow-up appointment with Hospital  Neurology Consultant.  All fine. 

28/09/05 - Went to A+E because my pain was extreme and it was affecting the way I walked. (The Benign Tumour had grown back but it had doubled). 

14/10/05 - Neurology Consultant rang and said I needed surgery in another Hospital, because he did not have the expertise.   

21/10/05 - Ended up in A+E with pain and stayed in hospital until 4 November.

04/11/05 - Went to a new Hospital.


07/11/05 - Had MRI.

15/11/05 - Had CT in yet another new Hospital not far from one I was staying in.

18/11/05 - Had Embolisation 9:30am - 3pm.  (This cuts the blood supply to tumour)

21/11/05 - Had Major Operation today 
- Full resection (all the tumour was hopefully out).

11/01/06 - Hospital Appointment to see Consultant.

08/02/06 - Saw Registrar and Had X-ray.

March 2007 - Appointment with Hospital Doctor 
- My increased pain was noted.

23/08/07 - Appointment with Consultant
- Told him my back was hurting and tender to touch 
- He said he would do something BUT DIDN'T 
- Was meant to show me x-rays but didn't 
- I told him about my increased tiredness and weight loss.

20/09/07 - Doctor said I should have a scan in 6 months time (aprox Feb 2008).

- Weight loss, had told everyone who would listen and the only one who thought it didn't sound good was the Pain Management Nurse.

03/01/08 - Appointment (Told no progression of tumour).

19/01/08 - Letter from my Consultant to another Doctor said "She certainly does not have any progression of disease from a Tumour point of view."

07/02/08 - Appointment (Had CT Scan).

12/02/08 - Report from scan from 07/02/08 showed that there was deterioration in the Sacrum and Radiologist said in my notes that the metal artefacts were obscuring vision.
(I had metal holding up my spine at time that my Doctors put in when I had surgery in 2005.)

THIS WAS A RED LIGHT PRIORITY REPORT (12/02/08) - Don't know why there wasn't any blood tests taken or scans??

05/03/08 - Saw Consultant and he said "I looked fantastic and x-rays were satisfactory and we know that there is no significant Recurrence of her disease and he is happy for me to go on crutches at the time. " 
16/04/08 - Appointment with Consultant, he weighed up whether I should have biopsy or not. 

06/05/08 - Biopsy 1 - not enough sample taken. So had to have it done again.

14/05/08 - Biopsy results had not come back. They did not tell us, so a wasted trip to hospital and I was so exhausted at the time.

23/05/08 - Biopsy 2 - Three containers this time.

30/05/08 - MDT Meeting with my Orthopaedic Consultant and Oncologists from another hospital.

11/06/08 - They called to say that the biopsy had not come back yet, so had to cancel appointment.

17/06/08 - My notes said my biopsy had been seen by 3 Professors and a Doctor.
- Came back as 'Telangiectatic Osteosarcoma' and also written down was 'Giant Cell Rich High Grade Osteosarcoma' on my notes at the time.

19/06/08 - Appointment letter arrived today, just 2 minutes after the hospital transport arrived but I did not know so I could not go.  

20/06/08 - Told by Consultant I had 'Osteosarcoma' in my Sacrum.  In December 2008 I was also told that I had it in my spine as well!

MRI I had earlier this year (I have one or more at least a year)


You know your own body. Be persistent and stick with your gut feeling if something doesn't feel right. 




Links: https://www.sarcoma.org.uk

Friday, 3 June 2016

Brothers in arms unite for Prostate Cancer UK - By Guest Blogger Clare Biddle #JeffsMarch #MenUnited

Race for Life with Cancer Research UK excludes men. When I asked Cancer Research UK in the past they said it's because women are more likely to donate money and feel more comfortable with just women. As a woman myself even if it's true, more money is made through women only charity walks, I feel men still need somewhere they can come together and support each other while still raising money for cancer research. A good example where this is done is Movember and #MenUnited where they also allow women on their cancer fundraising walks.
Below guest blogger Clare Biddle tells us about her experience on the charity walk for #JeffsMarch for Prostate Cancer UK

I am not usually one for writing blogs. I fear that no one will read them and then I've wasted my time!
But when Becki asked me to write about my experience on the march and 'my story' I thought why the hell not?! So here it goes...
A local running club here in Nottingham posted about Jeff Stelling was walking 10 marathons in 10 days. As soon as I saw this I immediately enquired about doing this. I thought 'well I run half marathons and I'm pretty fit, this is going to be a walk in the park!' (No pun intended).

Why I signed up...

I have a friend in his early 30s who was diagnosed with Prostate cancer. He's ok now and has been given the all clear, but it just shows that you can be any age suffering with this awful disease. I also lost my mum to Gall Bladder cancer in December 2014- it was a shock to the system and everything happened so quickly I really didn't process it. I still don't think I've come to terms with it all now and I still have some dark days. I now feel I protect my dad and urge him to get checked with everything as I know he has a few underlying problems...I don't know what I'd do if I lost him too. So I also partly signed up for him too.
Training had been going well - 2 weeks prior to the march I had my first half marathon of the year, so I was getting a few runs in, I go to Bootcamp 2-3 times a week and I also teach 3 spin classes a week....busy bee! I felt strong and prepared. I also recently signed up to do the 'Fan Dance' in June. It's what the Special Forces do as part of their selection. I signed up to do this with 35lbs of weight...writing this down now I see why people think I'm crazy! To my training plan I started adding short, weighted runs with a Bergen on.

Thanks to my boot-camp instructor - he has lent me a bag, which I've christened Barry.

I think then I had an idea from then. I thought 'I don't feel like I'm challenging myself enough with this walk...I want to push myself...I know, why don't you add weight to your walk?! I'm walking 26 miles, why don't I add 26lbs of weight while I do it?! That will challenge me and it'll be good training'. I asked the organisers of the event and said I could so that was that. 26 miles with 26lbs of weight to carry...

At the end of last year I did a course called Break-Point with Foxy and Ollie off the show SAS: Who Dares Wins. It was a 2 day course which pushed myself both mentally and physically. I absolutely loved the course and recommend it to anyone who wants to push themselves beyond. The course changed me completely. The way I think, the way I act. It also helped me with my dark times. I know want to test and push my limits to the max! So I guess they're partly to blame for my added challenge. I also want to prove to myself I can do these things and I want to show that I am strong and not weak.

Flu knocked me down, but not out!

Good 9 mile run on the Saturday, a week before in preparation for Sundays half marathon at Silverstone. A gentle Bergen run to the rugby club to treat a player and run home. This was Tuesday and an easy week of training so I had fresh legs for Sunday. Wednesday morning- my whole body was aching, I could feel my lymph nodes raised and I had no energy...shit. I was poorly and I knew it wasn't just a cold. This was the start of the flu. I forced myself to Morrisons to get all the drugs and lucozade I could get. I had to cancel my spin classes this week as there was no way I could hold a class together. I forced myself to work on Saturday to prove that I could potentially still run on Sunday. I felt awful, but I had been looking forward to this half for a while and I really wanted to do it...even just to complete it. Sunday came and I still felt so bad. I decided to give it a go and if I needed to, I'd drop out...if you know me you know that I'm stubborn and wouldn't drop out, someone would have to physically stop me!

 Race started at midday and I was off- 1st mile down, not bad. 2nd mile....WHY AM I DOING THIS TO MYSELF?!?! I couldn't breathe, everything ached, I had pins and needles in my hands and legs. I was shivering. This was going to be tough. An agonising 11 miles and a disappointing 2 hours 35 mins finishing time later I was done. I burst into tears- a sign of being in so much pain and relief it was over. A wave of emotion all rolled into one. I am never running feeling like this again. Stupid idea.

I had 12 days until Jeff's March. A minor setback with the flu. It will of left my body by then?! It has to. I'm doing this for charity and need to be ok. I need to rest and look after myself. No bootcamp, no running. Minimal work- as minimal as you can being self employed. Spin classes were being taught again, but it was such an effort and I couldn't really say I was spinning to what I usually do. This is horrible. The Monday before the march I felt a little better. I went to bootcamp for the first time. I still felt weak and a chest infection has taken over. Not a good session and my confidence was starting to decline even more. I want to walk this 26 miles with the weight on my back. I've told everyone what I'm doing. People have sponsored me to do this. I know I'd added on the extra challenge myself, but I feel like I was letting people down. Letting myself down. Why can I not feel better? I picked up Barry. It felt like it weighed a tonne...not looking good.

Thursday, the day before the march. I could actually feel myself feeling stronger. I was doing little exercises again in my lounge. I lifted up Barry and put him on my back. It actually felt ok and I started jogging on the spot...don't get carried away Clare. Today was the day I actually thought I could do this with the weight. I taught spin that evening and I was actually going for it. I had the energy to sprint and to add on the resistance. I decided then and there that walking with weights was back ON and that I could do this. Early night ready for the early start.

Today is the day!

Excitement, nervousness, the thought of what I'm about to put my body through washes over my mind. Awake at 5:30 to get to Derby for 7 for registration. The iPro stadium. I came to this ground years ago as Pride Park to watch an England U21s game. As a Notts County supporter, we don't get to go to stadiums like this so it was quite overwhelming.

Going into the stadium waiting for Jeff and Russ- who have already walked 4 marathons since Monday. And Paul Merson was also walking today. It was all starting to feel real. There was about 60 walkers today, but half of them were stopping when we arrived at Burton Albion's ground. The Pirelli stadium.

I always wonder what it's like when you meet someone off the TV. I've watched Jeff and Merse on Soccer Saturday for years. I've always wanted to meet Jeff, to talk to him and I've pictured him to be a really nice bloke. I saw Jeff arrive, not moving too quickly which was understandable. We were all gathered in the stand. He came and spoke to us all. He has such great charisma.

We gathered and had a group photo and we were all ready to go...after a few selfies!

Just after 8am we set off. Merse and Russ- Hartlepool's chief executive set off ahead. The fastest anyone had seen Paul Merson move!! In our briefing we got told not to overtake Jeff and to stay behind him...not many people paid attention to detail and half of the walkers seemed to shoot off with the front pack. It didn't bother me- I was carrying nearly 2 stone of excess weight on my back!! I started talking to some people, finding out their backgrounds, why they're doing the march, football clubs etc. Most people I spoke to were Burton or Derby fans and a lot were just walking the morning. I can honestly say I think I was the only Notts County fan doing the march...not that there's many of us to begin with!!
The pace seemed to be 18-20 minute miles. Around 5k an hour. That's over 8 hours of walking at this pace! The first 2 hours seemed to fly by. 10k down, not too bad and feeling ok. Shoulders were starting to get sore, but that's understandable.

Wearing a Bergen, I stood out! People were asking me what I was doing? What is in my bag? How much does it weigh? Are you mad?! The local newspaper from Nottingham also called and interviewed me. Luckily today, the weather was good (warmer than I thought!) and we were walking mostly along canals/river paths which meant the route was flat. About half an hour later I was suddenly right by the main man Jeff Stelling...from the TV! He queried about the big bag on my back asking all the questions as stated above and then we got talking about football. We have a common factor- both of our teams are struggling down the bottom end of league 2. Talking to him and him actually being genuinely interested in what you had to say- I can honestly say he was already nicer than I imagined. Our conversation got cut short due to he had to do some filming. I carried on walking. Our first break was coming up and was ready to get the bag off for a few minutes.

Relief! My back felt so good taking off Barry and went and got myself a coffee and a banana. I was hungry and opened up my Jelly Babies too. I didn't want to sit down as I didn't want to seize up. Tried to keep the legs moving. Jeff was taking pictures, signing autographs, recording messages for people. He didn't say no to anybody. Bless him, I don't think he gets a break! The troops got rounded up and one of the leaders shouted "not long now, another 5k to Burton". So that's 1 hour of walking until lunch...5k my arse!!! We walked for at least another 90 mins- I forgot to start my Garmin again. It was more like 5 miles! I stuck with 2 women who were only doing half a day so their end was in sight. Every light I saw I mistook for flood lights!! Surely thats the ground up there. Every corner I turned I thought it had to be just around there...nope! The miles crept up, over 13.1 miles. Half marathon done! Still walking. This little section was harder than the 3 hours I'd already done! Finally, we saw the ground, saw more and more people, cheering. The Pirelli stadium was there and I started to jog in...sprint finish and all that! The morning was done. We had a packed lunch for us and sat upstairs in a suite. Looking at the Garmin we were on 14.72 miles, but as I forgot to start it straight away I'm pretty sure it would be 15 miles. 11 to do this afternoon.

We drove to Trent Lock which made it to the point where when we get to Meadow Lane, it'll be a full marathon completed. Jeff was talking to Sky Sports, so I took this opportunity to talk to Merse...before he shoots off again! Paul looked at me funny and asked what was on my back. I took it off for him to feel how heavy it was and he said a naughty word! Too rude for the blog! We spoke for a little bit-small talk and then it was time to blast out the last 11 miles.

I spotted a Notts County top, he wasn't here this morning! It was Mick Halsall, the academy manager. I went over to him as we have common ground with me being a county fan. It was lovely, we spoke for over an hour and her got me through the first 3 miles of the last leg. We were on the canal path and as it was such a lovely day we were bombarded with cyclists and pedestrians so we had to keep moving into a single file. The pains were starting to kick in again. My legs were feeling heavy and every step I took I could feel it getting harder and harder. I decided to jog, get on the balls of my feet and to use different muscles. It was working...it was easier to jog. I kept going past people- they must've thought I was a mad woman!!

I caught up to Jeff again and I slowed down to a walking pace, but still on my toes. I got another chance to speak to Jeff again. He also did a video for me for Team Essence- who are now world record holders by the way!! He would do anything for anyone! I asked him the football scores as it was half time and his team Hartlepool were winning. I asked about Notts County and he said last time he checked it was 0-0, but he checked again and told me 'no, it's 1-0 to Portsmouth, 44th minute'. Just like he does on the TV!!! But it was just for me! Even though it wasn't a score I wanted to hear, I smiled and loved that he told me. God know what would've happened if Notts were winning?!?! We spoke some more and I walked in with Jeff to our next drinks break- he made a little comment about there's more people here cheering us in than there is at a Notts County game- cheeky!!!

I was really thirsty at this point and downed a pint of water. This was the last break before we reached the end. Let's do this! Final push! At this stage I wasn't talking much to people, a couple of the event leaders gave some small chat and the photographer spoke to me for a while, but for the next hour it was pretty much me, myself and I. It was starting to get really tough. Barry was feeling a lot heavier on my back and was really starting to get uncomfortable. I saw a sign to West Bridgford- where Forest, the next football ground is located. 5 miles. Things started to look familiar. I could see Nottingham! I could actually see the city centre! It was close, but still so far away. I was starting to really struggle and had mentally hit a wall...I needed someone to talk to, anyone just to take my mind away from myself.

I then started talking to 2 guys from Derby. I'd spoken to them earlier in the day and I think they made the next hour or so more bearable and thank them for that. We were finally along the river Trent. Not long now. I've ran this on multiple occasions. It's just that this will take me twice as long...things were coming into sight and could now see the City Ground, Trent Bridge and most importantly Meadow Lane on the other side of the river. The end was in sight.

Instead of going under the bridge so we were on the right side of the road, we went up the bank and then stopped traffic all across the bridge! Just 6 lanes of traffic!! Arrived at the City Ground. Jeff, Merse and some Forest players went to have their picture taken. A couple of minutes rest meant a couple of minutes of no Bergen. Just one more final stint and we are there.

We walk down to the next bridge which will lead us to Meadow Lane. I was right by Merse and asked him if he would record a message for Team Essence also after I told him about them. He happily obliged and did a hilarious video!! It took away the pain from the march. By this time we had reached Meadow Lane- the road, not the ground. Jeff was behind me and could tell he was struggling. We all stopped and let Jeff and Russ past so they led us in. We clapped and cheered to give them that buzz they need to complete this! Walking into the oldest football league club in the world right now- my club and it's the finish line!!!! It's Over and I've done it!!!! That buzz you get from actually completing something is amazing and to me it's addictive and like a drug.

We walked out onto the pitch and watched them have their pictures taken. My good friend owns this amazing Donut company in Nottingham that do customised donuts- better than Krispy Kremes!! He kindly donated a box of donuts. Paul, Russ and Jeff also posed for pictures with donuts that they thoroughly deserved and then ate them!

Jeff and Russ went to get their massages and I went upstairs to the suite to meet my dad and sister. There was a pint of beer waiting for me...they know me so well!! All the other walkers were there too. Everyone looked shattered. I sat down which was probably the worst thing to do. Mick came over and spoke to me again and said how well I did, but then my dad started talking about football to him.

That pint tasted wonderful. After I drank it I said bye to the rest of the walkers and slowly but surely made it down this stairs to the car. I don't usually walk like this after running!! Walking is definitely harder than running. My body isn't used to it. Everything is aching now...but then I look back at what I've done.

Why I did it and it's all worth it. I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and kept on going. You can do a lot more than you think you can. You just have to push through that mental barrier.

I honestly don't know how Jeff and Russ managed to do the full 10 marathons in 10 days. They did so well and raised over £300,000 for Prostate Cancer UK and most importantly raised awareness for this terrible disease.

Source: Prostate UK

Source: Prostate Cancer UK, Cancer Research UK        Image found at: Quantum International




**Many thanks to Clare for doing this guest blog post and raising awareness of Prostate Cancer!**


Monday, 16 May 2016

Each round is a trial and never give up when it comes to research. Let's all fight together!

 In February, I came across on my twitter timeline Paul Cashmore (from channel 4's #Hunted Show) tweeting about about a boxing event @uwcb1  and their Ultra White Collar Boxing's event. It also mentioned that it was in aid of Cancer Research UK and Paul stated he would be competing at one of their boxing matches. 
 I was interested in what this was all about and so decided to read about about it. The thing that caught my attention was how much they raised so far for charity, later you'll find out in my interview how much they raised for Cancer Research UK.  
I had to blog about this fantastic fundraiser that everyone is taking part in.
 Whatever you think about boxing it's getting people moving and actually exercising. 
For some it has been a while since they've done this and this is a good exercise to keep up your stamina.
It's not like they're baking cakes for a cake sale and eating them all full of sugar.  When raising money for charity through a cake sale they're promoting unhealthy sugary cakes when if anything we should be trying to discourage it because some cancers are down to diet.  We should all be promoting healthy eating habits if obesity is to be tackled. Not many people exercise as much in the overall population and I see this as a great innovation to raise lots of money for charity while also helping focus the boxer's mind to become fit and healthy.  Even the boxing ring girls have to exercise daily to stay in shape. All this benefits their long term health and helps to promote an active lifestyle. 

Ultra White Collar Boxing (UWCB):

"White Collar Boxing events across the UK.
 Get 8 Weeks FREE training, Get in the best shape of your life and Raise money for Cancer Research UK."


 1) What is UWCB all about?

UWCB is about getting people in great shape, raising money for Cancer Research UK and Providing an Amazing Experience.

 2) Who founded UWCB & when was it founded?

 UWCB Was founded in Derby in 2009 by Director Jon Leonard, we now run events in over 90 cities across the UK.

3) Why was CRUK chosen as the charity to fundraise for? - personal reasons/someone affected by cancer you know?

 We don't have any reason why Cancer Research UK was our chosen charity, we just wanted to raise money for a great charity and help others.

4) What was your original target you thought you'd reach fundraising wise?

5) Are you surprised by how much money has been raised so far? Over £3 million isn't it?

6) Is the aim to get £6 million by the end of 2016?

 We have exceeded Every fundraising target we have set we are amazed that we are heading towards £4 Million with a target of £6 Million by Christmas 2016. We can't thank the people taking part enough for their hard work and dedication to helping us raise this amazing target so far!

 7) Who can take part in UWCB (men & women) & what's involved?

 UWCB Is aimed at male and female beginners of all ages (18+).

 8) How long is training?

It involves 8 weeks of free training and you get to box at an event at the end of it.

9) For those worried about safety, what do you do to look out for boxers health?

10) What team is involved in their care?

At all events, safety is our primary concern, at our events Medical solutions provide medical care (They provide medical care for England boxing & Professional Boxing Organisations) To ensure the safety of all of our participants, we make sure that we strictly adhere to our rules and regulations. Here is a summary of the guidelines provided to us: All Boxers are to have a medical before and after they box. You must be aged 18 or over to compete All boxers train together to ensure fairly matched bouts Bouts contested over 3 rounds of 2 minutes with 1-minute intervals UWCB Provide 16oz gloves to be worn on fight night. Full UWCB headgear to be worn. Groin protection compulsory for males, optional for females. Scoring by referee Three standing eight counts in a round will result in referee stopping contest The referee can stop the bout at any stage if in their independent opinion, the safety of either boxer is compromised.

 11) Can people still join up?

 People can sign up to take part at any time.

UWCB newsletter:

Sign up to UWCB's newsletter:

Cancer Research UK:

1) How did you first get to hear about UWCB wanting to fundraise for you?

Ultra White Collar Boxing have been working in partnership with Cancer Research UK since 2013, and during that time have raised an incredible £3.3million for the charity.

2) How have you been supporting or helping UWCB while they fundraise for you?

Cancer Research UK receives no government funding so we rely solely on the money we receive from our supporters.

3) CRUK must be so proud of how much UWCB has fundraised for you so far? How much is it now?

Ultra White Collar Boxing have contributed an incredible amount to our scientists and researchers and will help us reach our ambition to see three-quarters of people surviving the disease within the next 20 years.

What started out as 1 event in Derby, has now grown and will see Ultra White Collar Boxing deliver 350 events this year across 90 different locations.

Ultra White Collar Boxing stipulate that their boxers raise a minimum of £50 for Cancer Research UK to take part in their events, and have committed to raising £6million by the end of 2016, increasing to a phenomenal £10million by the end of 2017.

We are incredibly proud to be working with such an ambitious and professional organisation as UWCB, and plan to continue developing our partnership further in the coming years. 

 I felt disappointed about Cancer Research UK answer,  when I asked them questions about rarer cancers, CRUK said "they never thought about rare cancers as much but now they're looking into funding more research etc for them."
I've been saying for years informally that CRUK need to look more into rare cancers and apart from MAP chemotherapy ("The chemotherapy drugs doctors usually use are methotrexatedoxorubicin (Adriamycin) and cisplatin. This combination of drugs is often called MAP." - Euramos 1 trial) for osteosarcoma which is a bone cancer CRUK  has put some funding towards MAP. and because this is the regime I had 2 cycles of in 2008 that was all I was aware of for my rare cancer.  Survival rates for my type of cancer (osteosarcoma)  haven't changed for 25 years. 
 When I recently went to the Bone Cancer Research Trust's 10th birthday and Bone Cancer conference I talked to a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon who has special interests in Bone and Soft tissue tumours and Sarcoma cancers and asked if the Clinical Reference Group for Sarcoma in the NHS which I use to be a patient representative for was definitely closed down by the NHS and unfortunately it was. The Clinical Reference Group has now been changed to Oncology Surgery the Consultant said and that rare cancers will now get less attention and get lost within all the different types of cancers'.   At least when it was just for Sarcoma as a rare cancer there would have had more chance to be heard but now I feel for rare cancers' that we are only going back in terms of finding a cure.

"Helped set up the International Rare Cancers Initiative which is developing clinical trials to find new treatments for rare cancers. In 2014-15 the first trials opened internationally, and UK patients are already taking part.
We’re increasing our research in key areas such as early diagnosis, and hard-to-treat cancers including lungpancreaticoesophageal cancers and brain tumours

To help accelerate progress, we’ll be investing an additional £50 million a year into new funding schemes for our researchers. These will encourage collaboration and innovation, and support research tackling some of the biggest scientific challenges in cancer research. 

We’ll campaign for the best cancer services in all parts of the UK, and give more people the chance to join the fight against cancer.
But we can’t achieve our mission alone. We rely on our dedicated scientists, doctors and nurses, and the generosity of our supporters across the UK. With your help, we can beat cancer sooner." - Cancer Research UK
(link is external)





Harley Dunsmore (One of the models who holds up boxing round sign):

1) Why did you decide to take part?

I decided to take part because not only is being a ring girl really fun the UWCB is for a great cause. The atmosphere is great, and everyone is in good spirits knowing the money is going towards a great cause.

2) How much fitness do you have to do to get ready & to look good for events?

I try to go to the gym 3-4 times a week and I'm also a dancer so I try to go to a dance class at least once a week. I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle but there is nothing wrong with a cheat meal!

3) What would you tell someone who is thinking about becoming a ring girl? Eg. Fun experience, good modelling experience etc.

It's about having fun and being supportive to the people fighting. You always need to look your best and be professional.

4) What do you think about how much money they've raised so far for Cancer Research UK?

It's a great event. Everyone loves a boxing night out, the atmosphere, the drinks, the fights etc. To combine this with raising money for charity is so clever, the fighter gets to train hard with the help and support of experienced coaches and the friends and family get to experience and support a night at the boxing. They have raised so much money and used a new modern method to do it. It's a great way to honour someone who you may have lost close to you from cancer or even if you have survived cancer yourself, or you just want to raise money for a good cause!

Harley's twitter account: @HarleyRedRae

Male Boxer no.1 - Paul Cashmore:

1) Tell people a little about yourself and about the programme #Hunted on channel 4 you're on?

I spent 17 years in the Police service and was part of the most successful Robbery unit in London, I’ve been commended for saving lives by saving a lady from jumping from a bridge, saving a lady who was about to jump from the 17th floor of a tower block and cut her wrists and disarmed a gunman who was firing the weapon in a public place. I have investigated major crime but I also setup a boxing initiative for under privileged young people to combat gang violence and. Upon leaving the Police I have investigated numerous crimes including catching a dangerous stalker. I am also a qualified bodyguard.

I filmed Hunted for the first series as a Fugitive Hunter tracking down members of the public who had opted to go on the run for a month.

2) How did you first hear about UWCB's event in aid of CRUK?

I was told about it by a boxing coach in London whilst doing some training. At 41 years old I’m too old to compete as an amateur fighter but this seemed like a great opportunity to train and raise money for such an amazing cause as Cancer Research UK. So many people are affected by cancer either directly or through friends and family. What everyone has accomplished at UWCB is truly phenomenal.

3) Have you ever boxed before?

A friend of mine was raising money for Tommy’s children charity a few years ago but I was almost at the cut off point for amateur fighters. I fought in the Lafone cup as a Police Officer and won my fight but tore my rotator cuff in the process.

Paul Cashmore below:

4) Where are you at in your boxing training?

I was getting in good shape and my fitness was good and did some great sessions in my old home town of York until I fell ill and had some fluid on my lung. I am now back in training and looking at a new date to fight.

5) If people would like to see you box, do you have a link where they can buy tickets please?

The link is www.UWCB.co.uk and you can buy tickets but I’ll be posting on Twitter. Even if people aren’t going to see me there are some amazing people taking part for such a wonderful cause and they will have a great evening too.

6) Any fundraising info/links you want to share.

I’ll post any new links on my twitter account.

Paul's twitter account: Paul Cashmore


Male Boxer no.2 - Brett Swiffen:

1) How did you first get to hear about UWCB?

I heard about uwcb on Facebook and I applied but didn't even think I would get a response!

2) Would you mind telling people the cancer you got diagnosed with and when?
(current status - are you in remission?)

 I was diagnosed with stage 4b follicular lymphoma incurable it was in my neck, armpit, groin and in and around my organs in my stomach it eventually spread to my spine and bones, I was diagnosed on my 30th birthday the 21/05/2007 I am currently in remission after undergoing a bone marrow transplant.

3) What motivated you to take part in the UWCB event?

 I have suffered with severe depression anxiety low self esteem and panic attacks since having my bone marrow transplant as such I new I needed something to focus on and always fancied boxing so signed up to uwcb to help me and also help raise money for cancer research.

4) How much have you raised so far for CRUK?

I have raised in total since being diagnosed over £10,000 for various cancer charities including the Anthony Nolan Trust who helped find my match.

 Your fundraising link: Brett Swiffen

5) For those cancer patients who are at the point where there able to physically do things like boxing but haven't yet, why would you recommend boxing at an UWCB event?

Boxing is one of the best sports to help build confidence and meet new friends and also get you fit and the whole fight night helps fetch friends and family together which is a big thing when cancer can result in you losing touch with so many friends like it did me.

Female Boxer at UWCB:

1) Your name?

My name is Charlie Mackay.

2) What made you decide to take part as a boxer in UWCB?

My friend passed away age 26 of cancer.

3) Have you boxed before?

Never done anything like this before.

4) It's great to see women taking part, how does it feel to box in such a great event?

It was really good training and I got fitter than I had been in years met some fantastic friends.

5) Would you recommend women to take this up?

I would recommend it to anybody who asked it builds confidence self esteem fitness helps with depression boxing as a sport in general is fantastic.

Charlie's twitter account: Charlie Mackay

Support comes in many different guises, everybody and everything has a part.

** Special thanks to everyone who let me interview them and Hannah McIntyre for drawing the boxing woman illustration above. You can find Hannah at doodleheart **



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