Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Kat in London wins well deserved Beacon of Hope Award

Here's a post from Kat over at the The C Word blog. I have followed Kat's blog since Mary Jo's Mantle Cell Lymphoma reared it's ugly head back in October of last year. Kat's journey from months of mis-diagnosis to successful stem cell transplant has been truly amazing. Kat's story has been an inspiration to all lymphoma patients and caregivers who have been blessed by her courage, perseverance and 'never give up attitude' shared around the world through her blog. Congratulations Kat!

September 10, 2013
I’m sat here at Heathrow Terminal 3 waiting for my flight which leaves in about 6 hours. Ade is on his way from work so I’m sipping a coffee very slowly ‘borrowing’ electricity as my phone is almost dead – mainly due to the fact that I somehow turned the torch app on before throwing it in my bag when my dad came to pick me up to bring me here. You’re probably wondering why I got here so early? Well, I’m a lovely considerate daughter and I know after 3pm the M25 is hell and didn’t want dad to get caught up in it. You see I take after my dad and I know from previous experience (of my own) that crawling at 25mph through the roadworks stretch of one of the circles of hell for 2 hours is enough to induce soul destroying madness.
Anyhow, the subject of this blog – inspiration! What is it? I’ve googled the definition and several adjectives and synonyms come up, mostly harking on about creativity, improving dull aspirations, creating self-belief etc etc. I was actually amazed at how most of the definitions sounded as if they came out of some hocus pocus self-help book. The point is, I believe that ‘inspiration’ is a word that banded around far too often, I hear it in every day life, every one seems to be inspired by someone. It’s become a trivial word and sometimes I wonder if the true context of it has been lost over the years.
To me, inspiration is my parents. Ever since I was a kid, they have worked extremely hard to provide for me and my brother Mark. They sacrificed a lot so we can all have the life we do now because let’s face it, it was quite grizzly in 1980s London when you’re drowning in poverty. Having grown up watching them struggle and doing the best they can has inspired me to do just that. I have always worked hard, I had little jobs as I was growing up, I helped around the house to earn pocket money, I learnt that to get anywhere in life I have to work hard and fight. I’m strong because of my parents, they are a true image of inspiration.
You’re probably wondering why I’m writing about inspiration. I’m writing about it as I received a letter a couple of weeks ago that truly got me thinking hard about what being an ‘inspiration’ truly is. The letter was from an amazing charity called The Lymphoma Association. Click on the following image and have a read.
When I received this letter, I read it in total shock, in fact I had to read it a good few times before it sunk in that not only have I won an award, but I’ve won a Beacons of Hope award for making a remarkable contribution. The award ceremony is happening this Thursday and as I can’t make it, I emailed the Lymphoma Association straight away to make them aware of this. In the email I also expressed my surprise at having being nominated and short listed, never mind having won an award. A lady from the charity replied and said that not only had I been nominated, the charity had received multiple nominations for me. This floored me even more than the actual letter itself. The charity sent me one of the nominations and it basically said that I’m an inspiration and that writing this blog has helped educate people about my condition and that my courage to be so open and honest even about ‘taboo’ issues should be commended.
A few days after receiving this letter, I was still baffled as to how I won this award. I started this blog to keep loved ones informed of my progress and as a sounding board where I can rant. I also decided from the start that there was absolutely no point in blogging if I wasn’t going to be completely open and honest, hence lots of information about issues that come up in cancer that no one talks about. What I’m trying to say is, I never set out to inspire people, I blog for the reasons I mentioned above. As time went on, I did realise more and more people were following me (I read all your comments), including many cancer patients seeking more information about the rare type of lymphoma I had, so I decided that no matter what, I owe it to them to carry on. When I was first diagnosed with double hit lymphoma, I turned to the Internet for more information but as it’s a rare cancer, I didn’t find much of substance and that made me feel quite bleak. I don’t want others to feel that way. It’s been over a year since I started writing and I can honestly say that not once have I ever considered myself as being an inspiration and I still don’t feel like one. Throughout my ordeal, I did what I had to do to stay sane (ish), but most of all, to stay alive.
I’ll leave you with that thought! But lastly I want to say thank you to all those who wrote to the Lymphoma Association to nominate me. I am extremely touched and happy that I have made a difference, whether it’s to those who are currently going through what I had to go through, or to those who have learnt about this horrible disease by reading my blog. If I can make a difference to even one person, then I’m very happy.

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