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Help Jack Compete At The Paralympics

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MY STORY
 
(Too Long Didn't Read: Normal guy gets cancer and severe mobility issues, now wants to compete at the Paralympics.)
 
In my last year of school, I lay there in bed one night perfectly asleep. At a moment's notice, I wake, and a feeling comes over me and I have no control of my right arm- it’s starting to raise without being told to. In my haze of waking up, I realise it is completely tense, with the fear of the unknown and the pain starting to ramp up I fall unconscious, through this period I know I moving as if I have ‘pins and needles’. Throughout a month, this happens more frequently, sometimes I shook so violently that I would be left with friction burns, and sometimes I would fall off my bed- which give my mum sleepless nights. The time comes to visit the doctor. The diagnosis: you’re worried about uni, you’re having night terrors…I came away feeling that wasn't the case. Repeated visits resulted in repeated diagnoses.
 
Then, whilst on holiday up in Austria we, unfortunately, got snowed in and could not leave the country. With two days to kill, we visited Red Bull Land and saw their awesome machines. On the last day, we decided to visit a coffee shop, this was where my life would be completely changed forever… it was just a normal coffee break, then BANG! Out of the blue, my right hand begins to rise and become rigid, I know I have maybe 2 seconds to say something and in my panic all I can muster is epilepsy, then i fall off the bench and descend into darkness. When I awoke, I was so embarrassed and sat there and cry in my mother’s arms like a baby and I don't think I stopped till arrived home. It's hard to put into words why I felt so embarrassed but I think it has something to do with the complete lack of control when having a seizure.
 
A couple of days later, we go to see a different GP, he says it was almost certainly epilepsy and that I will be having a brain scan soon. I have the MRI scan in Derriford and they tell me what’s going to happen and they need to inject me with dye to see what’s going on. If you have never seen one of these scanners, imagine a big doughnut with a bed in the middle, plus lots of clanging. A week later I get told that I have demalination, a bracket term for something in your brain but we have no clue what. This then turns into lesions, another bracket term for well it's not an infection it’s a piece of flesh.
 
And this is where the fun begins… I have every test under the sun ending in a lumbar puncture, which if you know what it is then you know it isn't nice. It is then announced that the only way to know for sure is to have a biopsy taken, from my brain. So I was like okay, it’ll be fine only a 1% of going wrong as told by my surgeon. As I wait for 7 a.m., the surgeon comes in and takes my mother and me into a small room and says, it's very close to some important parts of the brain, so as a normal person I bailed. After speaking with my new and improved GP, I am told that the biopsy is a necessary evil and that it had to be done at some point.
 
I go to surgery and it is surprisingly familiar, drowsy pain. When I wake, I am being wheeled into an MRI machine, I mumbled out that I would move if I could. I was in there for a while, but was high as a kite… Drifting in and out of consciousness, I hear something: He Has A Massive Brain Bleed. I should have been really worried but the drugs were kicking… However, that was the first time I ever went to sleep thinking: Shit I might not wake up, ya know.
 
Spoiler, I woke up. Just in time to be wheeled around a corner to see my whole family sat there and exclaiming ‘What’s up w******?’. I'm not sure how that went down with the crowd as I was wheeled into ICU. Let me tell you folks, that was the longest 24hrs of my life. However, to keep myself going, my nurse, Catherine was nicknamed Catheter, mum was not impressed when she found out. I did learn one major lesson in ICU though. There was a man next to me, one bed across and he would not calm down. I heard all sorts of nurses speaking to him and felt sorry for him until I realised how it happened, then I just thought what an idiot. He had shattered his hip and pelvis, so badly that the doctors had to wait 3 days for it to repair a bit before they could operate. Then the nurse said it was because he wasn’t wearing a seatbelt… People Stop Texting And Wear A Seatbelt In The Car!
 
I was then moved to a ward, Fal Ward. It was an exciting week in Fal ward, I met Rob -a guy that claimed he was a farmer and regularly tried to leave, even threatening to pull out his catheter, but backed down when a nurse said that wasn't a great idea. I was met by my surgeon one morning who said that I had a glioma, actually 3, and not to worry about it. I was the only one in that ward who could hold a conversation and had to tell a nurse which medication to give me, 2 days after major brain surgery!
 
Whilst on the ward I learned that below the neck I could not move the right side of my body, called hemiplegia. This is where my mental stability fell off a cliff. The rug had been ripped from beneath my feet, but there was still worse to come. I cried all morning knowing in all likelihood I had just lost so many things that I hold dear. I felt worthless and damaged and that’s how I thought others would see me. 3 days out of the theatre I had 3 poor women trying to get me to walk, one on my ankle, one on my knee and one on my ass! I was rehabbed for about a week before the decision was made to send me to Mount Gould.
 
At this smaller, more specialised facility there was a lot more going on and many people could talk, eat and even walk. Hope! There was a way back. I spent a lot of time on Netflix, complaining and unfortunately being nasty to family and friends, mainly my mum. One of my great regrets is how I treated my mum during that time, I was not a nice person and struggled mentally to deal with that change which resulted in my poor treatment of my mum. I was spending 2 hours a day rehab-ing my arm and leg. I must also mention Roger! Roger was in this facility with me and I got out of him how he became ill. Now Roger argued with his wife in the car, he had decided that it would be a good idea to step out of the car whilst it was still moving, about 5 mph, not knowing his leg was tangled in the seatbelt. His wife accidentally dragged him around an Aldi carpark, needless to say, he regretted that decision, it's always cars!!
 
After 6-8 weeks I was free from the hospital and left to fend for myself. To be fair I'm still quite hazy about what happened during this period, so I’ll skip to November.
 
We were called into the hospital, I think my mum and I both knew what was coming, but it still came as a shock. As I sit there and the Doctor tells us I have cancer, I sit there as a deer in headlights. My mother crying, I sit, what do I do? I end up just nodding and cuddling my mother.
 
This cancer wasn't just a glioma, this was glioblastoma multiforme IDH wildtype. This is cancer with about a 99% mortality rate with a life expectancy from diagnosis of 12-18 months. I later found out the reason it took such a long time to diagnose was that it had been to 2-3 pathologists as the cancer was very difficult to diagnose, I think it had been to Plymouth, Birmingham and London. So, not a cheeky bit of cancer that can be cut out, the surgeon refused to do anything I had one choice…
 
I was put on a treatment plan of intense radiotherapy followed by intense chemotherapy. To make matters worse, we would be going to the hospital every day- bar Christmas Day. Then I had to take chemotherapy in tablet form on top of epilepsy meds and steroids. I was taking about 30 pills a day. I was told to come off the steroids which were fine, until I went to sleep, then woke up with a headache that felt like I was standing on an earthquake and getting washer machined out of a tsunami. It felt like little explosions going off in my head with no-stop insight, needless to say, I went back on the steroids for a bit. 
 
I came off chemo in August. This was an oral tablet on 5 days on 23 days off cycle. I took these from about January 2020- August 2020. It was a cakewalk apart from the extreme fatigue, hair loss and sore tongue…
 
Fast forward to 2020 December, we were all happy that we were all here still to see another Christmas. However, the world was going to change for everyone this time. Going into lockdown, steroids and food do not go well together… I was 11/12 stone and then I was 15/16 stone. So I got myself a recumbent bike and I cycled, sometimes for 3 hours, and glad to say I'm back to 11 stone once again. I had started to get back into my fitness. For context about my weight, I played rugby religiously when I was at school. To get to a professional level I was told I needed to put more weight on. I could not put any weight on for three years, so for me to gain 4ish stones was crazy…

 
After getting my tribalistic mentality for exercising back, I decided I wanted to do more, I needed to do more… all my MRI scans were clear so why not! My mum had just told me to go to a CrossFit gym near where we live. WILLPOWER FITNESS. This gym/box truly changed my life, from barely being able to lift a weight I have just made a personal best of 135kg deadlift!
 
My coach Will Woods and many others in the gym made me feel so welcome. They all made me feel like it was okay to fail, and that's what life is: failing over and over again until you succeed.

I have since gained another coach Ben Wadham and at his gym/box PANTHEON, he’s been helping me with my running and cycling specifically. 
 
Following, that I would like to compete at the France 2024 Paralympics in para-triathlon. This requires significant funds which is why the goal is so high. I am going to compete at least 4 times next year in the super series, specifically for para-athletes.
 
what the fund will be used for:
  • 1-2-1 sessions in the pool
  • a TT/triathlon bike
  • Orthotics (running and cycling)
  • other equipment
  • memberships for triathlon
  • transport
  • entry fees
 
All of the donations will be spents exclusively on these bullet points.

If interested please check my Instagram:

 
Finally, i appreciate it a lot of money so any donation big or small is appreciated. But i do hope that reading will help you to understand and accept someone else’s difficulties.
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Donations 

  • Nicholas Millington
    • £20 
    • 6 mos
  • Bryan Rigby
    • £100 
    • 9 mos
  • PATRICIA TOWNSEND
    • £50 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • £1,500 
    • 10 mos
  • Anonymous
    • £50 
    • 11 mos
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Organizer

Jack Howitt
Organizer
England

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