Day 39 of the challenge has seen a fear conquered and a dawning realisation but will also have to include at this late hour a most sincere apology.

Firstly my fear was conquered this morning at the swimming pool at the McLaren Leisure Centre. Shortly after diagnosis I developed epilepsy and as treatment progressed and the epilepsy grew in strength I started to find just the stifling smell of chlorine in a pool enough to set in motion the first tinglings of a seizure. However, through the challenge I have grown in strength and with a change in my anti seizure drugs regimen and strengthening of that regimen I have also grown in confidence. So today I caught the bus to Callander and walked up to the leisure centre for a swim. I was apprehensive and breathed deeply as I walked in, alive to the slightest tinglings of a seizure. Nothing. I got changed and feeling rather naked in my swimming trunks walked timidly up to Chris the life guard. I explained my situation, that I was only going to do two lengths of breast stroke with deep starts to see how things go but could he please keep a very close eye on me. Any breakdancing on my part then he needs to come and get me!! The joy of the leisure centre is that it is rarely swamped so there was plenty of clear space to swim in and be watched over. I jumped in to adjust to the cooler temperature and then fiddled with my goggles. I fiddled nervously as I searched my inner self for any signs of epileptic activity. Nothing. Goggles adjusted and with a deep breath I dropped below the water, planted my feet against the wall and pushed off. Now I remembered why I liked swimming so much. As I blew bubbles out from my nose to hear them bubbling away past my ears before coming up for air and another deep glide under the water I felt like a seal pup being introduced to water for the first time. I reached the end wall, twisted, turned and kicked off for another length. Far too soon I was complete. Two lengths done. I had lost a lot of swimming fitness but far more importantly I had done it!! No seizures, not even a twitch so could come back for more to build it up 2 more lengths at a time. Brilliant. Thank you Chris for watching over me.

This afternoon saw me travel to the Glasgow SECC with cousin Anne to meet up with Carole, Ben and his lovely wife Rose, JP, Mandy and the rest of the gang for the 100th birthday celebrations of the Elim Church. It was a hugely fascinating story that shook me so hard I have had a rude awakening and realised what was actually happening around me. I had spoken in earlier posts last week about the converging streams of influences in ones day to day lives that come together in the turbulence of everyday life to form a river flowing out to new life. As you will know from having watched the welcome video I had been searching for a purpose, a focus in life and then from nowhere:

Came the memory of the quote Granny gave me as the route to health and happiness and then wrote in my book of common prayer ‘Go forth in to the world. Be of good courage; Render to no man evil for evil; Strengthen the faint hearted; Support the weak; Help the afflicted; Honour all men; Love and serve the Lord in the power of the Holy Spirit’. Came the memory of my son James placing his cards of God’s promises on to my desk to help me post the operation. The top card being to ‘do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can’.

It was my epiphany. A path had been lit for me and guiding me up that path was the light of the world through his example of his wanderings as he preached the good news of his Father. While my path was certainly not one of preaching but rather one of doing what I could do which was to try and help people directly, or through the raising of funds, or in a way I had never thought my simple writings could achieve but through inspiration and encouragement.

Yet still I couldn’t see it.

On trying to follow that path with the start of the challenge I needed help and support yet out of almost nowhere came the Kingdom Bank (about whom I had never heard of before) to offer free banking but also advice and guidance to ensure that the challenge wasn’t tax liable against me for any funds raised. Then the accountants in the village said yes they wanted to provide free accountancy support to the challenge before I had even managed to get my words out!!

Yet still I couldn’t see it.

The challenge could then start and has slowly but surely and little by little grown in support. Most importantly for me, having that focus, a reason for getting up and going in the morning, just at that point when the children were growing in, and needed to be given those freedoms in order to develop, their independence, and therefore didn’t need Daddy quite so much, having that focus that the challenge gave me pulled me through some of the hardest weeks of treatment as I went through my 11th and 12th month of Chemotherapy after the Brain Surgery and Radiotherapy while ensuring that I tried to provide a positive influence for the children as they grow as people. Yet still I couldn’t see it.

Over the last 39 days of challenge activity extraordinary things had happened and yet still I couldn’t see it. Tonight at the Elim Church’s birthday celebrations I was taken to the front by Ben and Carole to be prayed for. My very foundations were rocked as I found myself asking for the courage to tell the truth, to be honest about what I truly believed to have been happening these last few months as I fought to Beat the Beast. A lot of what was said was lost by my deaf ear in the noise of the 1500 people in the room singing God’s praise. But I could feel the raw emotion and energy of the prayer team, Ben and Carole as they laid on their hands and prayed for me. I couldn’t hear a word but I was literally buzzing with the sheer energy of the moment. I received the courage I had asked for so before I make my apology I lay before you the final bits of unexplained activity that now makes so much sense. Suddenly I was seeing it so much more clearly:

So at the risk of being ridiculed and even loosing some support, if what happened before on this challenge hadn’t convinced you perhaps a reminder of the last few days might once I give you my apology:

As Anne and I sat to enjoy our packed lunch at the top of Conic Hill on Day 34 of the challenge this merry group of people from the Glasgow Elim Church summited the hill and something told me to go and say hello. I did, and before I knew it I was surrounded by 8 or 9 people with hands on praying for me. Anne’s comment as a bystander at that moment says it all ‘It was a very moving experience for me too! I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Such a lovely bunch of people. It was like a mantle enveloping all the people on the top of the hill, including the bystanders.’.

On Day 37 of the challenge as I sank lower and lower on the walk, possible even into a deep depression, a Heron flew through the mist in the most extraordinary of circumstances pulling me forward to find hope.

And on the following day of the challenge I had the most definite sensations of a helping hand on my saddle pushing me onwards and upwards. There was no danger, I wasn’t tired, but the helping hand of our Father was most definitely sending me a very strong message yet still I hadn’t seen it.

So my apology.

On the 14th of October I told you all that I had received the best possible news that we could have hoped for, with regards to the scan of the tumour, at this stage in the treatment. That it hadn’t grown one teeny weeny bit. It hadn’t. Instead it had shrunk a wee bit. I stress the word wee. This was NOT a large movement but it was a small shrinkage that we just hadn’t expected likely or even possible for my particular circumstances. Medically it makes no difference to the facts about my position but was a movement in the right direction and could I build upon it. I could feel the excitement welling up inside me and even the excitement from the brilliant oncology team but my immediate concern was for all the people whom I loved. How I could I give them such news, hope and expectation only to have to dash them against the rocks when the beast grows back. I needed to do some damage limitation by lying through ommission. What I said on the 14th October was the truth- it just wasn’t the whole truth. I did it for what I thought were the right reasons, to protect those that I love, but the dawning today, for risk of ridicule is that, I failed to see the message that God was trying to give me, that he is leading me on this challenge, to try and help others, through his son’s example, that this is the path I am supposed to be on, and that he is going to give me new life by working through the challenge using Physical Training, Good Food, the support of Family and Friends and of course the brilliant oncology team. Clearly therefore, by trying to protect my family from further heartache should I go backwards, I was demonstrating a complete lack of faith that God, through the 5 Fs plan, challenge and the brilliant medical team, could indeed give me new life.

I apologise most sincerely for the deception but hope that you can understand the reason for it and forgive me.

A huge thank you to Carole, Ben , Mandy and the gang from the Glasgow Elim church for helping me get to this realisation. God wants us well.

Yours aye