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Shine Night Walk Cambridge

The Privilege of Living: a Personal Account

Two years ago this week, a blood test changed my life.

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This has probably happened to many people of course so I’m nothing special really. For me though, the test led to a diagnosis of a chronic blood lymphoma  - Waldenstroms Macroglobulinaemia – that had been developing in my body over a long time. I thought I was just unfit! It turned out that my blood simply wasn’t getting oxygen around my body at all.

The past two years have been the most challenging of my 63 years. On top of Covid to deal with for all of us and the associated fall out of that, I have been learning to live with the prospect that my blood is deficient. Yes, the blood that is crucial to life itself!

And yet, I have been blessed hugely.

Firstly, and most important, I am now ‘under control’ (various indicators are back to normal) as a result of a marvellous drug called Ibrutinib that is a targeted therapy that attacks the errant blood cells, kills them and in so doing, allows my body to do its best to recreate new and better ones. This kind of therapy is the result of years of research into targeted treatments which negate the need for damaging chemotherapy. More on this later.

Secondly, I have been held unconditionally by my family through this tricky time that saw me ‘completely felled’ for several months and by dear friends who have prayed for me and encouraged me.

My personal faith has been challenged throughout these past two years, and strengthened if I’m honest. Questions like – Why me? And how has this happened? for example; but I have also known deep peace amidst panic and fear. I won’t know how or why I came to get this disease (there are no lifestyle or hereditary clues), but in living with this, I am a tiny bit more aware of what it means to be truly human and having to live holding the tensions of love and pain, joy and suffering, hope and fear. Just being alive is a gift. I’ve begun to understand more deeply the privilege of living and how I might both cherish life and not waste it – to live the best life of me that I can. It’s a work in progress.

Returning to research around cancer. I am due to walk the Cambridge Shine Night Walk on October 15th to raise funds for a charity very close to my heart, Cancer Research UK. It may not sound far (10K) but for me it’ll be the furthest I will have walked for 3 years! Just having the oxygen and stamina to do that will be an achievement despite my arthritic knees too. Caroline my wife (who has had surgery this year for skin cancer), is doing this with me and between us, we ‘d like to raise £1000 minimum to go a tiny bit towards helping these brilliant scientists continue to discover remarkable ways to treat lymphoma and other blood related cancers. If you would like to support this work, then please do go to one of our funding pages and donate:

Tim's fundraising page

Caroline's fundraising page

And later this year, my book about the whole bizarre and humorous story to discover I’d been living with an unpronounceable disease will be published by LR Price publishers. It’s called “There Should Be Blood” and is an honest, moving and hilarious account of a very bizarre year indeed. More details about this will follow in due course. Thanks for reading this, and thanks for donating to CRUK if you can. Thanks too for living as your best self. The world needs it.

 

Tim Richardson, Owner, Art&Soul