Day 117 has been quiet. Exceptionally quiet. No seizures and a brilliant session in the gym.

The children were brilliant at getting up this morning. They went to bed early, exhausted after such a fantastic weeks skiing and knowing that they had to dive straight back into school this morning for a catch up before the February half-term break. A quick breakfast before a last minute panic looking for the stuff they needed for school. One tantrum survived over a lost homework diary which was clearly all my fault but otherwise all managed to catch the bus dressed in school uniform, wearing shoes, fed, teeth and hair brushed and with all their kit minus a homework diary.

I cracked on with some admin and then packed my kit for the gym. I was going to McLaren Leisure Centre in Callander and after yesterday’s fiasco you would have thought that I should have planned and written down very carefully the travel plan but no. I was feeling good cognitively. Was feeling confident so decided to risk it for a biscuit and go off my memory. I decided to catch the 1124hrs No59 bus to Callander so would leave the house at 1115hrs. Perfect. Time to do some organ tune practice on the piano. To really test my cognitive performance. First tune – almost perfect. Second tune – not bad and with a another play through became pretty good. First organ tune – not bad at all. Second tune – needed a little work as was quite rusty but certainly not disastrous. I was feeling really good.

1115hrs and I left the house. I left the house once. I remembered everything I needed so unusually didn’t need to return again. As a result I arrived at the bus stop with 4 minutes to spare. All was going really well. I was smiling and so much happier than yesterday.

The bus arrived on time and carted me off to Callander. A brisk walk up the hill to the school and the leisure centre and I was in the gym, swiped in and getting changed. What I haven’t told you was how badly I did not want to come to the gym today. I was feeling cognitively great but haven’t been sleeping well for a while for some reason so was feeling particularly groggy and a little physically jaded. Perhaps I was also nervous of the gym and Callander after yesterday’s horrible experience but it was a real test of my resolve to get going and get to the gym. These sessions are really important not just for the cognitive motor coordination. The ‘think and act cycle’ but for the pure motor function which as you will remember was really struggling yesterday. By trying to perform each exercise as precisely, cleanly and thoroughly as possible I am not only maximising the quality of the exercising with regards to building strength, endurance and with it my immune system but also maximising my chances of preventing osteoporosis, the risk of which has increased significantly, after such a long period (12 months) of Chemotherapy. I am also of course attempting to build a back up generator in the healthy left side of my brain by forcing the brain to commit these technical strength exercises to a healthy memory bank while the motor system is feeling a little sluggish. So by using low weights but high numbers of repetitions I was attempting to train motor capability into the healthy brain. I couldn’t afford not to do this so changed and armed with my exercise card I found some floor space and set up a mat on the floor for abdominal work, a bench and some dumbbells for the weight resistance. I decided that I was going to up the anti a little after yesterday’s feeble experience. I needed to work the motor function and raise the bar a little to keep improving my strength, endurance and immune system. So after a warm up on the bike and the rowing machine I set to with 16 repetitions of each exercise except for the overarm pullups and dips. Just 4 repetitions of those two but unassisted. I raised the weight of each dumbbell from 4kg to 5kg and resolved to complete two complete sets of the very highest quality. Don’t rush it. Take my time. Focus the mind on the muscle areas being worked and go for quality and a full range of movement in each repetition. The circuit I work to is one I have developed for the challenge and list below:

1. Pull Ups x 4
2. Press Ups x 16
3. Arms across the chest sit Ups x 16
4. Bent over Row x 16 each arm
5. Dips x 4
6. Half-Sits x 16
7. Dumbbell Pullover x 16
8. Reverse Dips x 16
9. Leg Raises x 16
10. Reverse Fly x 16
11. Bench Press x 16
12. Back Raises x 16
13. Bicep Curls x 16
14. Shoulder press x 16
15. Crunches x 16
16. Lateral Raise x 16
17. Standing Row x 16
18. Bicycle Abs x 16
19. Front Raises x 16
20. Chest Flies x 16
21. Long Arm Crunch x 16
22. Hammer Curls x 16
23. Tricep Kick Backs x 16 each arm
24. Arms across the chest Sit Ups

As I got to the half way point of the circuit my arms and shoulders were getting very tired and I really wasn’t sure that I would be able to complete the circuit let alone do a second set but pushed that thought aside and concentrated hard on the quality of each exercise. I kept it calm, focussed, each movement of quality with good breathing techniques employed and a sip of water after each abdominal exercise to avoid dehydration. An hour or so later and I suddenly realised that not only had I completed the first set AGES AGO but that I had just completed the second set too. I hadn’t lost anytime anywhere. I could remember quite clearly making the decision to crack on into the second set despite the shaking of fatigued muscles. I could remember each burning repetition of each abdominal and shoulder exercise in particular. I could remember the accentuated exhalation to provide a little more pressure under the weight. I could remember it all but was so focussed on the task in hand I had lost sight of where I was in the circuit and suddenly found I was about to complete the final three exercises. I started to stretch off. Concentrating on the breathing and the quality of the body position in each stretch and reviewed my performance. I was hugely pleased with what I achieved. While in the Army as a young fit man I could do more and around me in the gym were sixth formers on their study period lifting twice as much as I was. But only 6 months ago, as I entered my tenth month of chemotherapy post Brain Surgery and Radiotherapy I was attempting the same circuit but with only 10 repetitions of each exercise using only a 3kg weight and really struggled to complete even one set of the circuit. Today was a significant little step which left me very happy as I showered and changed. I was going to Deli Ecosse for lunch. Julie was on the counter so I needed to say only two words as she looked at me expectantly. ‘Lunch please’. I was asked to take a seat and as I tucked into an excellent magazine by the log burner about walks, bike rides and kayaks through Scotland Julie duly arrived with an egg mayonnaise sandwich with a huge salad of carrot, red onion, red pepper, lettuce and tomato, a seeded flapjack and decaf, lactose free Mocha. I needed the protein, vitamin D, Vitamin B12 and selenium load of the egg sandwich to help reinforce the immune system after such a good workout and thoroughly enjoyed it while I researched and made notes on more walks and bike rides I can do while chatting to Debbie and inviting Julie on a walk too. I never did get an answer. Julie?

Post lunch caught the bus and got home in loads of time to sort my gym kit and get ready for James’ return from school. Heather was off to Killin to have a sleepover with a friend. James burst in with a huge apology after this morning’s tantrum and a hug for Dad. He knew how to get what he wanted. I made Mexican sausage wraps with lettuce, red pepper, lactose free cheese and yoghurt and a red salsa sauce. One of his favourites!

I have just written a cheque for £40.00 for the challenge thanks to the generosity of people I meet on the challenge. I forgot to mention last night that Penny and Gordon very kindly donated a tenner each as we spoke together in the leisure centre. Thank you very much for your generosity Penny and Gordon and it is winging its way to the challenge bank account with two other donations as I type.

A great day with significant improvements made and most importantly of all. No seizures!!

Have a lovely evening

The challenge so far in numbers in total since the start:
Days completed: 117
Total Miles Cycled: 627
Total Miles Walked: 595.5
Total Miles Run: 35.2
Total Miles Paddled: 7
Total Distance Cycled, Skied, Ran and Rowed in the gym: 19.2 
Total Distance Swum: 1,140 metres
Total Miles covered under own steam.1,401
Total Height Gained under own steam: 31,973 feet
Mountains Climbed: 5
Hills Climbed: 18
Days of Voluntary Activity: 6.5
Organ tunes learnt and performed: 5
Salmon Caught: 0!
Curling Matches played in: 6
Curling stones placed on the button (the centre of the target): 1
Weight Training Sessions: 9
Aerobic Circuit Sessions: 5
Press Ups: 280
Pull Ups: 65
Sit Ups: 280
People Met and Hands Shaken: 362
Pots of tea shared: 25
Prayers joined on the top of a hill: 2
Prayers joined in the street!: 4
Prayers joined in a Train Station: 1
Prayers joined in a Café: 1
Pills popped: 510
Days until Driving Licence (lost to epilepsy) possibly Returned: 729
And most important of all – Money Raised as at Day 112 – £6,050.77

Considering I started this challenge 22 weeks ago very quietly with no target beyond a fiver, thanks to the brilliant advice from a friend of mine, I am absolutely thrilled and again thank you all. That is £54.02 for each and every day that I have managed to find the will and energy to do something worthwhile and my goodness it has been worth it for my peace of mind, for my healing and for the five wonderful charities you are supporting through your generosity. Long may it continue. May I also ask however that if you are not sponsoring me to please consider it for as much or as little as you can afford. My rate of revenue raising has slowed from £70.00 a day to £60.00 a day to £54.02 a day so please sponsor me and encourage your friends to as well.

Thank you all for your incredible comments and support. Please continue to spread the word.
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 for joining me on my own personal journey and encouraging me to walk, cycle, climb, paddle, sport and do good deeds each day to ‘Beat the Beast’ while helping to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship. The Five Charities that I have selected to support are:

  1. Cancer Research UK – My Father Succumbed to Lung Cancer; a couple of friends are currently fighting cancer and I am fighting a brain tumour. Let’s Help to Beat Cancer Sooner.
  2. The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged Young Lives for success.
  3. British Red Cross – helping those in need around the UK and the world whoever and wherever they are.
  4. World Wide Fund for Nature – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive.
  5. Help for Heroes – Support for our Wounded and their Families. To learn more about my story that brought me to this point, how I plan to ‘Beat the Beast’, what activities I plan to do within the challenge and why, please see my welcome video on this page.

How to Sponsor Me

The Beat the Beast Challenge is self funding through my own contribution while keeping costs to a minimum with voluntary support and corporate sponsorship in kind. Therefore the entirety of every penny donated will go directly to the 5 charities listed above.

Please sponsor me by completing a standing order form either through your own personal internet banking or by completing a hard copy standing order form in your branch of your bank and then handing it in to the teller.

It is entirely up to you how much you would like to and are able to sponsor me for so do please give as much or as little as you can. Every penny will be very gratefully received.

While I hope you will encourage me to keep going by sponsoring me for every day I survive and am able to find the cognitive and physical capability to complete a day’s task designed to improve my chances of ‘Beating the Beast’ or improving the lives of others, 5 days a week, four weeks a month, for as long as ever I can. Any One off Cash contributions will be most gratefully received and distributed in exactly the same manner to the five charities as the sponsorship. Any one off donations can be made by BACS or cheque.

Thank you for having enough faith in me to sponsor me.

Yours aye