Other ramblings

6-Is this just a cut price cancer?

18th April 2020

It’s around week 4 of the UK lockdown. Feels like month 4 for many, but for Wozzer there’s lots to prepare for. And of course if there’s anyone nerdy enough to sit researching things, it is he!

I’ll need online deliveries of shopping for sure. A friend told me that Sainsbury’s were prioritising the ‘old and sick’ Well, really I didn’t think I was either – but I might be both.

Sure enough, on the Sainsbury’s website, just register with my email and lo and behold… Sorry, came the reply – you’re not on the Coronavirus Vulnerable list.

OMG – but I’m old and sick.

So, a bit more web research brought me here at the official government website to register

Half a dozen or so cancer types listed… cancer with chemo (nope); cancer of the blood (nope); radical radiotherapy (definitely not it’s in Gloucestershire, so hardly radical); stem cell (nope).

Bummer, my tonsil cancer doesn’t qualify.

Is there another way? I hunt a bit more and check about Aldi delivery. No problems or restrictions for Tonsil cancer listed, just pay £23.99 online and have a box of food delivered.

Simple as. Save money – especially for cheap cancer patients 🙂



11-Love all

4th May 2020

Nope – that’s not a tennis result and certainly not the fight result.

It was just me and my own thoughts up and out of bed at 5.30 am this morning. I couldn’t really get sleep last night – sat up watching Netflix till around 1.30 – and here I am on the long walk from the dressing room to the ring.

Yep, the crowds are cheering me and shouting amazing notes of support. My team in the corner are all well experienced with me 100%, so no doubts there – none.

But jeez, this has now hit me – here, right now for the first time really. A proper life-changing day.

I’m going to a specialist unit for cancer treatment – my cancer. Not to visit mates of mine that have been through this in the past.

Of course, all the prior month build-up, tests, procedures, doctors meetings – blog posts and musing have been published on line. People, friends, acquaintances from my wonderings around the world have made contact – some I haven’t been in touch with, in years. It’s a warm feeling.

But now today – it’s real.

I’m not scared, my faith in the medics and family is all the trust I need – but I still get emotional and have a little cry to myself.

But I’m not feeling sorry for myself either – I fear more for my dearest and closest that need my support too. I’m a husband and father and a step-father, and no matter what’s happened along the way – there are responsibilities that are always there.

Cancer. It’s such an emotive word.

But really in this day and age, the knowledge, drugs, technology and care are so much more advanced. The odds are on my side. Let’s face it – we all go in the end, one way or another.

I used to drive 35,000 miles a year over 12 years in one job. More chance of a fatal on the M6 or the foggy M62, I used to reckon.

Crossing Monivong Boulevard by Central Market in Phnom Penh was another life-threatening act – every time!

And perhaps the way I always envisaged (and nearly did) die, was in a real sleazy bar in downtown Saigon. Now that would have been cool…

So that’s all off my chest and I’m feeling much better for it.

Climbing up into the ring now. Just hope I don’t trip over the bloody ropes and knock myself out, before I throw a punch 😉

Love to you all x

23-What a day!

My Macmillan Coffee Morning 25th September 2020

It was astonishing, astounding, surprising, breathtaking (literally), awesome, phenomenal, extraordinary, incredible, unbelievable, wonderful, marvellous...

Yep - it was a pretty good day!!

My thanks to everyone that joined-in on Zoom video throughout the almost 13 hours that I was online. And to all of you that kindly donated... Well, you contributed towards a total donation of 1300 GBP / 1675 USD.

To put this in perspective, this would pay for a Macmillan Support Worker, helping people with cancer for almost 2 weeks. I've been a direct beneficiary of this support, so I'm humbled at the response from you all.

On the day, I started at 7am here in the UK and soon enough has some past work colleagues (also great friends) now living in New Zealand. Soon enough Australian friends were on line - followed by Asia, Europe and finally the USA. There were 28 people (well more including couples) from 10 countries. Some I hadn't seen since perhaps 2010, when in Cambodia. Some were more recent friends, including some of my Macmillan team - thanks Sarah and Olly for dropping by!

It was truly heart-warming to not only catch up again, but to know everyone took the time and trouble to join me and reminisce.

I must make a special mention to Dally in the Philippines, who had the unknowing misfortune to buy a ticket on the Mekong Express overland coach from Saigon to Siem Reap. A journey that takes around 14 hours. That in itself is bad enough, but finding that Wozzer was in the next seat for the whole trip...

And so the day went on and I loved it all. I really can’t thank everyone enough.

Draw for the Macmillan Coffee Mug

I screen recorded the draw, using a list of unique participants (as reported by Zoom), each with a number and an online random number generator. You can see how I did it (for transparency and fairness) in this short video.

I wish you could have all won – all are equally deserving. But one winner only for the jackpot, which goes to Phil Butterworth, now living in the USA. As it happens, Phil was (is) a great mate from our Cambodia days. He’s a helicopter pilot, used to do sightseeing flights and also some pretty cool commercial stuff too. I distinctly remember him flying with university professors to discover (and map) a completely hidden ancient city.

There’s an excellent article and video here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-29245289

I had many nights out with Phil, including one outstanding Haloween / fancy dress pub-crawl around the Old Market (Psar Chaa) area in 2010.

We knocked ideas around on one of our many man-dates, over beers and a curry. He thought I’d make a pretty good Shrek and I thought he’d make a very good policeman – and so it came to pass…

Man oh man, what a night. I had literally hundreds of tourists wanting to pose with me – mostly Korean as I remember. This allowed me to get into full character – complete with a dodgy Mike Myers Scots accent… “What’s up with you? Have ye never seen an fookin ogre on a Saturday nite in Siem Reap’??

They had no idea what I was on about 🙂

Phil also really went to the limit. Well, past it really. He obtained a full, real police uniform and stuffed all the pockets with banknotes - imitating in real-life the local corruption that goes on.

It was a real hoot - until the real police carted him off. I was terrified that they'd lock him up and forget about him (as they were prone to do in those days). As it was they relieved him of his uniform - and all his money, and he was back with us within an hour or so. Scary though !!

Back to reality...

Next week (6th October), I have my appointment to discuss the results of the PET/CT scan that was done a couple of weeks ago. Watch out for my next blog update a few days after.

Until then - take care.

Woz x


26-What a year that was

Friday 11th December 2020

Today is exactly 6 months since I finished radiotherapy on Friday 12th June and ‘rang that bell’. So I thought a good day to reflect back over this mad year, which is both forgettable and definitely unforgettable…

And what a year indeed.

It started for me quite normally – as with most of us I guess. January started good for bookings in the travel business and then later that month, news of the coronavirus was starting to appear. I spent most of February cancelling the majority of our guest’s bookings. And then from March on – along with everyone else in the world, trying to make sense of things.

Reading back through my blog, it was the last day of March – while the UK was in ‘Lockdown 1’ that I strolled into Gloucester Royal Hospital A&E with my (now infamous) niggling sore throat.

And here I am now.

Larry the Lump has gone – beaten and K O'd in the final round by Radical Radiotherapy, although he gave me quite a hammering along the way. But I had an amazing team in my corner - so I was more than confident all along 🙂

My recovery from the radiotherapy is still going in the right direction. But fatigue; lacking a sense of taste and issues swallowing food are constant reminders of the effects of the cancer and treatment. As is the slightly numb left ear which has some nerve damage, also as a result of the radiotherapy.

But all in all – I’m told by the medics I’m in better shape than many after just six months post-treatment. Of course, the secondary tumors that were identified, are a constant reminder that there’s still a way to go. I’ll deal with them next year and of course, it will all be dependent on what further scans show.

It's not all bad though...

I’ve lost a lot of weight – some 35kg / 77lb or 5.5 stones. In fairness it was needed because I did need to shed some blubber, but I’ve gotta say – it’s a tough diet and is not recommended at all as an aid for weight-loss 😉

Still, I’m down a good three dress sizes and getting into clothes I’ve had (literally) hanging around since 2005. They’re almost back in fashion too!

Also in September was the ‘worldwide coffee morning’ that I held on Zoom, raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Charity. I have such fond memories of that day – meeting up on video with family and friends all around the globe.

Also – avid readers of this blog may remember there was a prize winner drawn from all the people that were on zoom with me that day – and the winner is a good mate of mine - Phil Butterworth, who I’ve known since my early days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, around 10 years ago.

I had comissioned a commemorative mug from Macmillan - specially printed and then shipped to the USA, where Phil now resides. Here’s a lovely selfie as sent to me from Phil.

Enjoy it mate!

So that nicely wraps up this chapter and the final one for 2020. I’m scheduled a further PET/CT scan sometime during January 2021 and I’ll update this blog with information, when I have the results from that.

But for now on behalf of Samros, Nisa and me, we extend our sincere thanks for all your messages of support and to wish you peaceful holidays and a healthy and happy New Year, wherever you are in the world.

Take care
Woz x