Day 27 has again combined the building of physical fitness to build back up a strong immune system with the development of cognitive and motor function in order to ‘Beat the Beast’ and has involved my first session in the gymnasium since before the operation 18 months ago and a Curling match. My first one with Doune Curling Club. The weather has been magic all day which confirmed in my mind that I would be telling you today my final aura story. A story of sorcery which forced me to question my faith.

It was great to be getting back on to the No.59 up to Callander and taking the delightful stroll over the river Teith with glorious views up the river and then on up the hill towards McLaren High School and the leisure centre. There is normally always a hive of children from the high school on some form of sports training be it PE or one of the team sports training sessions. The leisure centre buzzes with positive energy and excitement. Just the place to be energised by such positivity so a trip to the gym becomes a real pleasure. I was hoping to bump in to Heather or James and saw most of their friends who gave me a cheery hello. Perhaps they warned them that I was up so they hid lest I embarrass them!! Nevertheless I cracked on in to the gym ready to go and opted for a light session with a warm up and some light weights with a higher number of reps. It was just the tonic as it warmed me up and prepared me for a good stretching and breathing session. I came out of the gym refreshed, feeling clear headed and ready for the walk back down to the bus stop. Naturally I arrived too early for the bus (some would say that it was perfectly planned) as it gave me enough time to pop in to the Deli Ecosse and say Hi to Julie and the team and order a freshly made egg sandwich (delicious and still warm) and a Mocha which I duly ate outside in the sunshine staring up at the mountains.

Not Curling

The curling match was for the MacAlpine Trophy which is a points competition run between the various teams within the club. I was allocated to team ‘A’ so off I went hoping not to lose balance and fall over as I attempted my drive and glide to launch the stone in accordance with the captain’s signals. The team could not have been more supportive or welcoming. Margo gave me a lift so thank you to Margo. Mary skipped the team in such a way as I knew exactly what was going on and Helen helped me to learn a little more about the rules and language of the game so thank you to Helen and Mary for your patience with me. Sweeping, which is to straighten the line of the stone and alter the distance of travel was hard work for the brain as I tried to keep ahead of the stone travelling at some speed along the ice with me travelling sideways in order to be able to then brush hard in front of the stone. So the balance function by visual referencing was thoroughly stretched and tested as the brain had to find a way to do it sideways while I looked down at the ice to avoid striking the stone as I brushed and the brain did it brilliantly. I didn’t fall once. Brilliant and even managed to curl a couple of decent stones only toppling sideways once. A great night thoroughly enjoyed with a huge hoorah to team A because we won!!! Finally I promised to give you a tale of sourcery that tested my faith and for this I want to take you to Hogwarts; The boarding school of wizardry, from the Harry Potter films, set in an old stone abbey like building. Imagine now in the side of that building a long cloistered corridor running the full length of the outside of one of the buildings. The side of the corridor consists of large and tall Norman like arches running, side by side the length of the corridor. The corridor was floored and lined with a white granite like stone. The corridor was deserted except for a group of people stood in a gaggle chatting away at the end of the corridor. I was on an errand, stood at the other end looking for somebody, about which I cannot remember the details, but slowly the clouds outside parted and the sun shone brightly and directly in to the corridor creating a piercing and almost blinding white light reflecting off of the walls and floors. I was stood trying to shield my eyes with my hands from this blinding white light while trying to see what was happening down the other end of the corridor when out of the blinding light came the white shadowed outlines of two people moving towards me in cloaks or what could have been white Monks habits. Their hoods were up. All I could see through the glare was the outline of these figures moving towards me. I couldn’t hear them walking, which I thought was strange on stone floors, but they were moving towards me very smoothly. Unable to hear their feet or see their feet through the glare or under the habits it was almost as if they were floating. I could hear them though as they were engaged in a whispered conversation. I couldn’t hear any specific words but I could hear the whisper, whisper, whisper, whisper of a quiet conversation which grew louder, and louder, and louder as the figures drew closer, and closer, and closer until eventually they passed; and then suddenly – whooooosh. I have never, to my knowledge, ever had anything pass through me, but if something were too I imagine that the feelings I had would be exactly as it would have felt. The pressure of some sort of energy hitting me was like that overpressure and sudden rush of wind one gets when hitting a train tunnel at speed in a tube train with all the windows open. Then a sensation running from front to back through the body like the feeling of butterflies one gets in the tummy when nervous or excited. It was strong enough to knock me backwards a step or two and throw my head back like I had just been punched straight onto the forehead. And then nothing. Absolutely nothing. Just internal confusion and silence, as slowly, slowly, I started to return to normality. Feeling weak and a little shaky I would look around me looking for visual clues to try and ground myself back into the present. But what did it mean?

This aura was experienced, during radiotherapy, on three or four occasions with no apparent similar cue but I had been praying hard every morning and evening looking for salvation. So I started to comfort myself with the notion that perhaps it was the holy spirit coming to take away a piece of the tumour. I struggled, over time, with the concept of such a notion. Who on earth, was I arrogant enough to think I was, to even entertain such a notion that the holy spirit would even consider coming to pay me a visit. He had enough on his plate. Or maybe that is exactly what the holy spirit is doing. Rushing around to heal those that ask nicely enough!! I am certainly no theologian and this concept coupled with my lack of knowledge started to trouble me deeply. I didn’t even really and truly understand what the holy spirit was. Shortly after the last Harry Potter aura I had another MRI and it confirmed that the tumour had not shrunk or changed shape in any way. The tumour was stable, sound asleep, but very much still there. This was good news but a tremendous disappointment all at the same time. I had prayed so hard but nothing had changed. Or so I thought. These scan results confirmed in a sense the oncologist’s prognosis but the tumour did appear to be asleep so was this after all that confusion and concern about the meaning of the aura just a very simple message. Perhaps so simple that I just couldn’t see it. Feeling bitterly let down I had to ask why and as I prayed I started to realise that I had to stop waiting for God to save me and blaming God when he didn’t or appeared to not save me. Instead I had to try and find out what God’s plan is but how? I had never heard him and couldn’t hear him through all my praying. Not one word. Then a friend sent me a religious meditation CD which had a passage in it about the importance of listening when praying. To stop asking for things all the time in an eternal one way dialogue but to just find a quiet place, sit quietly and meditate in his peace and see what thoughts enter the mind. To sit there and just listen!! I tried it, frequently, and slowly, very slowly, the path became clear, I was reminded of the quote my grandmother gave me as the route to health and happiness which coupled with what I think to be other pretty deliberate prods from somebody the idea of the challenge was born and here we are today. I am hugely thankful for this opportunity and will do all I can to make the best of it I can, for the improvement of the lives and life chances of so many more people, for as long as ever I can. Thank you for joining me on this journey.

So the challenge and it’s numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 27
Total Miles Cycled: 112
Total Miles Walked: 103
Total Miles Run: 2
Total Miles covered under own steam: 217
Total Height Gained under own steam: 9,361 feet
Mountains Climbed: 4
Days of Conservation Activity: 2 1/4
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 1
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 0
Weight Training Sessions: 1
People Met and Hands Shaken: 105
Pots of tea shared: 4
Pills popped: 140

If you see me around do please give a cheery hello and shake my hand or toot your horn and give a cheery wave to show your support and encourage me on.
Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.

Thank you

Yours aye