James From Newhaven
James From Newhaven

The last 6 days have been extraordinary by any standard.

Last Saturday I went to see a friend of a friend who was battling cancer. My main effort was to give her hope and reassurance that she really can beat the beast of cancer and endure all the horrible treatments. Hope from a living and breathing example of somebody who did just that. I also wished to introduce her to the concept of my balanced daily lifestyle, developed with the help of the NHS, in order to equip her with the tools to eat and exercise in such a way as to significantly improve her expected treatment outcomes, while also reducing the impact of treatment on her immune, neurological, respiratory, circulatory, digestive, integumentary, endocrine and musculoskeletal systems. It involved a 14 mile ride to our meeting point on the bike before having a 3.5 hour conversation, 2 metres apart, in the sunshine outside. I hadn’t talked to anyone for 3.5 hours for such a long time because I didn’t have the neurological capacity for it. I would normally, quite quickly, start to lose peripheral vision and control of my tongue, lips and cheeks as I talked and made the brain over tired. Yet, this day, the conversation was so positive and full of hope that I was able to chat for that long before cycling the 14 miles back.

Four days later, I was back at work on the book and following my book-writing routine, and as I climbed the 6 floors in my post-30–minutes-work bimble-break, the most extraordinary thing happened. By the 4th floor, my lungs suddenly felt like crumpled up paper bags that were extremely painful as I tried to breathe and expand them back to capacity. They felt sticky and every time I twisted my body it felt as if my ribcage was rubbing and catching the lungs, causing further pain. I phoned the surgery who immediately had a doctor call me for a COVID verbal assessment before giving me an appointment for a physical assessment at the surgery. The physical assessment led to a referral for the Acute Reception Unit at the Western General Hospital, who then ran a battery of tests to check the function of every major organ including lungs and heart. Nothing was found other than a slightly low reading for my blood platelets. On discussion with the Nurse Practitioner who was leading the assessment she concluded that these symptoms were likely a neurological dysfunction brought on by excessive physical and cognitive activity post a minor viral infection that was nothing to do with COVID. Just one of those many viruses that exist in society. I might not even have noticed it and been asymptomatic, but now my mind and body needed a rest to recover. She booked me in for another blood test in a couple of weeks to check on the platelet level and sent me home with Allie to rest and recover.

The following day we were back into the Western General Hospital for what we thought was a routine ENT check up on my cholesteatoma. It turned out to be a diagnosis from the scan taken to check that there was still no sign of my brain tumour. During the diagnosis we discovered that routinely a cholesteatoma would leave tiny crystals behind which are almost impossible to see during surgery to remove a cholesteatoma. Routinely these crystals are harmless and do nothing at all but typically for me I fell on the wrong side of the statistics. My cholesteatoma crystals have come together and formed a granuloma which sits immediately underneath the plate of bone that separates the brain from the ear canal. If it was left in place it would start to corrode the bone and create a hole through which part of my brain could sink. Clearly this is something that none of us want to happen, so I await a date for a CT scan, to identify the precise location of the granuloma and guide the surgeon’s knife.

Mary From Amsterdam - Assistant Director And Goffer
Mary From Amsterdam

Whilst resting and recovering, as instructed, my mind wandered and after a conversation with Huw, the Scotland lead for the Disasters Emergency Committee, I was lucky enough to be invited to help launch the new Coronavirus Appeal to help the millions of people in the world’s most vulnerable countries combat the worst effects of the virus. My wonderful treatment over these last few days reminded me how lucky we are to have the NHS. In Lebanon, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, South Sudan, countries torn apart by conflict, millions of people face starvation, lack clean water and soap, and have no NHS. Living in overcrowded refugee and displacement camps, they are extremely vulnerable to the coronavirus. So I have made the video with Allie’s help and Huw’s guidance to launch the ‘Who Gets You Through’ campaign because Allie gets me though. I have donated £10 every pound of which will be matched by the UK Government through UKAid.

  1. Harry Gammell
  2. Caroline Downer
  3. Alistair Gammell
  4. Andrew Tait
  5. Polly Keenedy

Can you?


Another wonderful moment was to witness an answer to prayer. A while ago, a friend who I see regularly on my walks, as she walks her two dogs from her mobility scooter, and who never fails to have a smile for me, broke her ankle. I discovered this when I met her with a brace on her leg and in obvious pain. I agreed that I would pray for her and very much did so every single day, and as the days passed the pain eased and just a month after her break I bumped into her again, this time without brace to hear the amazing news that she was healed. The break had gone she told me with a huge grin and thanks for my prayers. Marvellous.

If you are able, please pray that the ‘Who Gets You Through’ campaign catches the imagination of the nation, is successful, and manages to save the lives of those millions at risk and dying from the coronavirus right now. Please pray that we can relieve the suffering of those men, women and children who suffer so much.
May you be blessed with health, happiness and success in all you turn your minds to. Please bless those with nothing with your prayers and donations.

Please challenge me with your sponsorship of £1 per month for the Disasters Emergency Committee to beat the beast of Neurological Dysfunction so that I might one day work again and to try to prevent my brain tumour from returning as predicted, and if it does to beat it back again. In so doing you are encouraging me to keep fighting and helping me to save lives and improve life chances around the world through the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Thank you

Yours aye, Archie.