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Beat The Beast Challenge

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This is a long post even by my standards, but is well worth a read because I am going to give you the most amazing news, before then inviting you on the most exciting of journeys I could think of.

Staples removed and no hair
Staples removed and no hair

Today could have been such a disaster. I had my oncology clinic today to receive the results from my last MRI scan at 1400hrs, so would only have time to do some physical exercise first thing in the morning. I woke in good time feeling a million dollars. For months I had been craving after feeling normal. I had been trying to shake off the all-consuming fatigue that had been plaguing me. Dampening my very spirit like a fire blanket smothering a fire and starving it of oxygen until it just fizzles. But today, after a good solid 6 hours sleep I felt more than normal. I felt better than normal. I felt amazing. A broad smile fixed to my face as I washed and shaved, I thanked God for this day that he had made and asked that I might be allowed to rejoice and be glad in it as I asked him every morning. I had a distinct impression that today he was going to grant my wishes. I packed my gym bag, got dressed and made the bed before going to take my anti-seizure medication before setting off for the walk to the gym. Shock horror. I realised that I had forgotten to take my evening dose of anti-seizure medication last night. It has been many months since I last forgot to take my night-time dose of anti-seizure medication but when I did forget, I woke up feeling decidedly unsteady and as I made my bed, bang, I had a seizure. Yet today, I still felt a million dollars. I couldn’t play catch up with the dosage, I just had to take my morning dose and be aware that I was at an increased seizure risk. On this day, in which I wanted to explore further my theory that I was healed, so soon after my epilepsy clinic had said that it was far too risky to look at reducing my anti-seizure medication, I was still feeling brilliant. Not even a whiff of a seizure having just lowered significantly my seizure threshold. Rather than make me nervous, this emboldened me, so rather than sit on the sofa and wait for a seizure, I took my drugs and went to the gym as planned.

Once at the gym, I met Lorna on the reception and found myself telling her my story. As I did so I learned of somebody very close to Lorna who was suffering a regression of her brain tumour. Lorna was fascinated by the detail that lay behind the strategy of Food, Physical Training, Faith, Family and Friends, and Focus and took away details on the challenge Facebook page, in the hope that this friend of Lorna’s could find some inspiration and ideas from my story. I so very much hope that she gets in touch so that I might be able to help her. Then in the changing room, I met Scott, and another delightful man whose name my sieve of a brain has sadly forgotten, but both listened to my story and I hope will pour a glass of wine and come and find me this evening. But meetings had and hands shaken it was time to get down to business so with 33 press ups, 1 pull up and 88 sit ups done, with 5 kgs moved over 132 metres or 660 kgs moved over a metre, it was time for a shower, a late breakfast, morning prayer and organ practice, and a move to the hospital.

Radiotherapy Laughter
Radiotherapy Laughter

In the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Allie and I met up with my brilliant oncology team. My oncologist was in buoyant mood and said very clearly that the scan looks great. So I asked my crunch question. If I believe that I am healed and manage to start to convince you as such, how long will it be before you would finally be comfortable enough to declare me healed?

The response started with a look at the scans with the first confirmation that there has been significant shrinkage of the beast, which was originally large enough to push the centre line of my brain immediately over the left ear. Large enough to be clearly seen looking like the back of my hand from the top of my wrist up. It wasn’t supposed to be possible to shrink it, kill it, or cure it. They were just trying to buy me some time. But now they have confirmed that there has been significant shrinkage. The bruising and the scarring was still visible, and my oncologist confirmed that there could still be a small, tightly formed ball of cells lurking in the bruising that they just cannot find. She clarified that there could well be a thin layer of cells against the brain wall which again cannot be seen. But then, as I probed further, we received a biology lesson. We learned about the importance of the biology of each individual tumour and each individual patient in delivering a prognosis. We learned about the new and very exciting discovery made five years ago of the IDH-1 Mutation. It was only truly understood 18 months ago and on re-examination of my tumour biopsy kept post-surgery they discovered that my tumour had this mutation. That this made the tumour much more susceptible to treatment whether it be traditional modern medicines or the sort of things that I was doing with food and physical exercise. In a nutshell we were being told that my outlook was looking much more positive than it had previously, that I could be around long after the 5 year hurdle that I was trying to reach. I could perhaps look far beyond that 5 year point, even years beyond, especially if I keep doing what I have been doing to beat the beast. Then, in order to reinforce the point, my oncologist turned to Allie and remarked: ‘Allie, if you were hoping for a short marriage before running off with the money then I am afraid that you are going to be disappointed!’ To which Allie replied. ‘You're right. He has no money!! Besides what I am hoping for is a silver wedding anniversary!!’ This caused much hilarity, but still I caught sight of the canvas bag that had been hung over my neck and tied to my front on diagnosis, and filled with sand on prognosis. This bag, through treatment and at times post treatment had weighed me down with the burden of the diagnosis and the prognosis that came with it. Although now much lighter it was still very much tied to the front of my chest, and like the elephant in the room, was completely impossible to ignore. I would catch sight of it strapped to my chest and be reminded of the ticking time bomb in my head and left wondering why and when? So I asked whether or not I could ever get rid of it? ‘No Archie, you will carry the scars of facing your own mortality forever. It is how you deal with those scars that will make the difference to you and those around you.’

On heading home, my thoughts turned to the challenge. There has been and is continuing to be an incredible movement of people coming to join the challenge. Over the last 24 hours there have been 51 page likes on the Facebook page, meaning 51 people coming to join the journey on the challenge. Names that I feel that I should know but sadly don’t. I will of course write to each and every one of you in time as you are most welcome on this journey. I am in fact very excited to have you join us and would love to know where you have all come from because I haven’t seen such an influx of people coming to join the journey since the gentle Matt Beresford brought his friends over to the challenge in October 2015. So this movement to come and join me is special, very special, and very exciting, and I would love us to ride the momentum of this wave and do something incredible.

I am not selling you anything.
I am not sending out newsletters, so will not clog up your in-tray.
I have and hold no details on anyone, so cannot pass anything onto anyone else.
So I will not and cannot pervade your life in any way other than when you may wish to bring me in by reading my posts, whether to seek hope, inspiration, fresh ideas or encouragement for whatever ails or troubles you, or even if it is just simply to follow my progress on this extraordinary journey.

But what we can do, with so little effort, is be part of something incredible. There are so many people out there in need, in desperate need, that are helped by the five wonderful charities that my challenge fundraises for:

  1. Health – 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. Youth – The Prince’s Trust – Inspiring and preparing disadvantaged young lives for success.
  3. Those in Need Around the UK and the World – British Red Cross – Helping people in crisis whoever and wherever they are.
  4. Environment – WWF – For a Living Planet and a Future Where People and Nature Thrive in partnership.
  5. Servicemen and women – Help for Heroes – Support for our wounded and their families.

There are 65 million active personal current accounts in the UK. There are no costs to running the challenge thanks to the free accountancy support from Webb and Wallace Accountants and free banking provided by The Kingdom Bank, and all tax free as I have formed a board and turned the challenge into an unincorporated Charitable Association with the Articles of the association and a constitution. If we could get each of these account holders to sponsor me for even just £1.00 a month, each of the charities would receive £13,000,000 a month, £39,000,000 a quarter and £156,000,000 a year. Just think how many thousands of lives we could change for the better with just £1.00 a month. I cannot think of anyone with an active personal current account who cannot afford just £1.00 a month. For me, for whom money is exceptionally tight, I am just having one less take away mocha coffee a month. That is my £1.00 a month provided for. It is as easy and as simple as that, and comes with the positive reward of the release of endorphins our body gives us for doing something good.

The incision
The incision

But to make this happen, to improve the lives and life chances of so many thousands of people, I need your help. So far I have raised well over £11,000 but together we could do so very much more, so please give me 15 minutes of your time to fill out a standing order, even if just for £1.00 a month, and reap the reward of the positive endorphins, then help me make some noise. Please like my page and hold me in your daily conversations. Tell your family about me. Tell your friends about me. Tell your work colleagues about me. Tell your church about me. Tell your sporting and social clubs about me. Please just bring everyone you know to the challenge. Encourage them all to challenge me to beat the beast with 15 minutes of their time to complete a standing order for just £1.00 a month and encourage them to hold me in their conversations and to tell their friends, family, work colleagues, church, sporting and social clubs about me. Help me to make as much noise as possible then sit back, relax and watch the money that you helped me to raise grow and grow and grow. Together, and for so little effort, we can do something incredible and improve the lives and life chances of many thousands of people. Join me and join the wonderful people who are sponsoring me already. Let’s make this the biggest, most exciting, and most incredible journey you have ever been on for just 15 minutes of your time and £1.00 a month while chatting to your friends, family, work colleagues, team mates and church. If you have a friend or family member who works in the media, whether newspaper, radio or television, then please encourage them to carry my story because the more noise we can make collectively, the bigger the journey will become, and the more people we can help.

We live in incredible times in which extraordinary things can happen. Let’s make this an unprecedented event in the nation’s history. Let’s make the impossible possible. This is an exciting journey and I have no idea how it is going to end. Only one person does and God is holding his cards very close to his chest! So please pray for me, and all those who you know who need healing, while praying that we succeed in rallying all account holders to the challenge, to truly improve the lives and life chances of so many thousands of people.

Hebrews 11:

4 By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: ‘He could not be found, because God had taken him away.’[a] For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
7 By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.
8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9 By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she[b] considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.
17 By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, 18 even though God had said to him, ‘It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.’[c] 19 Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.
20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.
21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons, and worshipped as he leaned on the top of his staff.
22 By faith Joseph, when his end was near, spoke about the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt and gave instructions concerning the burial of his bones.
23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.
24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the application of blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch the firstborn of Israel.
29 By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land; but when the Egyptians tried to do so, they were drowned.
30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched round them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.[d]
By faith I am going to beat this beast of a brain tumour and make the impossible possible.

Still Loving Life
Still Loving Life

Please help me,

Thank you

Yours aye

Archie.

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

Archie