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Beat The Beast Challenge

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It has been a wonderful couple of days that has seen 3.14 miles walked, £500.00 collected, advent discovered and a marked cognitive improvement.

Yesterday was a Sunday, and the perfect day for a physical rest day, but it was not a day for total rest. I had the delight of going to St Mary’s Dalmahoy to attend the morning service and collect a cheque for £500 from the church. It was a delightful trip. The weather was chilly but bright and sunny and the congregation were also bright and sunny but also very, very warm. Allie and I were very warmly welcomed throughout the service. It was last Summer that we met Alan from the vestry when we came to pay our respects to my grandparents buried there at St Mary’s. He was on duty and delighted in our wanting to go in and look around the church before then letting me have a go on the beautiful old organ. I told him about the challenge and handed him a flyer. From that point on he followed the journey and introduced the challenge to the vestry of St Mary’s who have now made the wonderful donation. I was also able to tell my story to the congregation in the church hall over coffee after the service. It was a wonderful opportunity that I did not want to let pass. I told the story of the diagnosis, prognosis and the desire not to give in to the beast, to instead want to fight back and beat the beast. I recounted how I came upon the Epiphany of trying to improve the lives and life chances of so many more people through sponsorship of me as I try to Beat the Beast and how that led to the wonderful experiences that I have had, how that has led to shaking the hands of 595 wonderful people, led to the completion of over 2000 miles under my own steam while climbing over 90,000 feet, while raising over £10,000. I reassured the congregation that every single penny of their sponsorship will go directly to the 5 charities. That I have managed to provide well over £2,000 to each of the 5 brilliant charities I support thanks to the generous sponsorship of the challenge and the free accountancy from Webb and Wallace accountants in Doune, and the free banking, tax free, enabled through the Kingdom Bank helping me to form the challenge into an unincorporated charitable association as I went through chemotherapy. There was also of course all the generous sponsorship provided by the McLaren Leisure Centre and Wheelology in Callander. But I was also able to recount the wonderful tale of Allie and I meeting that day I sat in her seat on the train and how it led to romance between two people who could support each other as they met their own challenges of a PhD and a disease. At the end I received a lovely ripple of applause but what I hope will happen is that they look up the challenge, become engaged with it and help me to raise awareness further. For by raising awareness I can reach more people, and by reaching more people I can help more people. It was a wonderful opportunity for which I am eternally grateful. I very much hope that other churches across the country might follow suit and consider sponsoring the challenge.

Sunday evening saw us attend the Advent Service at Old St Paul’s in Edinburgh. A beautiful church with the most extraordinarily beautiful and powerful choral music throughout the service which added real colour to my understanding of Advent. I had always just presumed it to be the point at which we started to count down to Christmas, count down to the point at which we could celebrate the coming of Christ. I learned that I was partly correct. That Advent in Latin does indeed mean arrival. But I also learned that Advent is a point at which we can yearn as a Christian body for the second coming of Christ. Christ was a prolific healer and as we face so many challenges for the world at large right now perhaps now is the time that he should choose to come to heal our ills. Equally and on a much more selfish view point I would very much welcome the opportunity to meet Christ and his healing power. To be certain of my healing. So as the music washed over me in its haunting calls for his coming, I found myself on several occasions having to choke back the emotion of the evening. Certainly I had already welcomed Christ into my heart on that amazing day as I celebrated the birthday of the Elim church at the Glasgow SECC with friends from the Glasgow Elim Church that I had met and made on the top of the Conic Hill in the Borders after a good walk to the top and who then prayed for me right there at the top of the hill. This night I continued to pray that he would confirm my healing but that he would help us to heal the scars of history: of the industrial revolution and the pollution it caused and continues to cause, clashes of culture and clashes of religion with all the desperate misunderstandings and clashes of arms that they have and continue to cause.

So I prayed again:

‘Lord of all creation, we stand in awe before you, impelled by visions of the harmony of man. We are children of many traditions – inheritors of shared wisdom and tragic misunderstandings, of proud hopes and humble successes. Now it is time for us to meet – in memory and truth, in courage and trust, in love and promise.

In that which we share, let us see the common prayer of humanity;

In that which we differ, let us wonder at the freedom of man;

In our unity and our differences, let us know the uniqueness that is God.

May our courage match our convictions, and our integrity match our hope.

May our faith in you bring us closer to each other.

May our meeting with past and present bring blessings for the future.

Amen.’

Today started with a good walk of 2.08 miles on the mill loop before another upper body circuit involving 2 pull-ups, 33 press-ups, 88 sit-ups and 5 kgs moved over 66 metres or 660kgs moved over a metre. After morning prayer and some organ practice I was then on the bus and doing some admin on Elm Row in Edinburgh. As I did so I noticed something quite pleasing. I'm getting sharper. There is no doubt about it. By about mid treatment I had become like the boy from the school for the gifted. I would try and push doors that wanted pulling, or pull doors that wanted pushing, with increasing regularity as the fog of treatment thickened in my head. As you know I have been working hard to claw back the memory loss and the cognitive function that I have lost in gaining 18 years or more of physical and mental age over 18 months of treatment. But today, as I bounced down the shops on Elm Row to post advent calendars, put in some dry cleaning and grab a Mocha, I realised that I was well ahead of every door. I pulled the pulley ones and pushed the pushy ones. I was on fire as I swung through the doors of the Elm Row shops like a monkey swinging through the trees. It was the most extraordinarily satisfying feeling. I was talking well and confidently. It was only on reaching the post office that it became a little less satisfying but quite amusing. I strode into the post office to find it empty! I went to the counter and asked to post the packages of advent calendars first class. The post master beckoned for me to weigh them on the scales. All good, but then it descended into a farce. I couldn’t hear a word that was being said so apologised and informed him that I was very deaf. He pointed to his ears and said that he had a machine that would help me if I turned my hearing aid up. I explained that I didn’t have one as I had no inner ear to hear so he would just have to shout. This he duly did which made the process of hearing him so much easier except for his heavy Asian accent which made it harder to understand. So as he shouted at me I shouted at him that I couldn’t understand, so as we shouted at each other with huge smiles growing on each of our faces we used our arms and hands in increasingly dramatic – and at times unintentionally rude - gesticulations in order to try and make ourselves heard. At one point I was trying to articulate first class and accidently gave this poor post master the finger to which he apologised and upped the humour further by confirming second class with a gesture made famous by the English archers as they tried to goad their French adversaries. This simple process of posting two parcels first class had rapidly turned into a comical moment that lasted some considerable time and only got worse as I tried to pay with a card and was asking for £30 cash back as well. It was only on receiving my cash and the receipts for the postage that my transaction was completed with my thanks given in an enormous smile and a nod. The post master replied with an equally enormous smile and a nod but this time a nod to indicate that perhaps I should look behind me. I turned and my smile rapidly melted. There was a huge queue now behind me in what had been an empty shop. There was nothing for it but to apologise, which I did, but unfortunately forgot that I wasn’t trying to communicate to a post master through a pane of glass, so shouted my apology. The queue leaned back slightly in shock at my shouting. I of course immediately realised that I was still in shout mode so apologised this time with my best plum in my mouth at a much more sensible volume level. I smiled sheepishly, then stepped to the side before walking, very casually, out of the shop, my face burning ever so slightly as I walked past person after person in the queue nodding my head in greeting and apology.

Back at the flat more admin was done for the run up to Christmas before heading out on a 1.06 mile loop gaining 55 feet before doing another Upper Body Circuit and a session of evening prayer and organ practice.

Yours aye

Archie
BtB!