Bex Smalley, Christie fundraiser and former patient
When I was 17 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma. By the time they found it they said it had been growing for a few years as the main tumour was so large. The tumour had also collapsed my lung and there were three other tumours too.
I received treatment at The Christie, which consisted of strong chemotherapy followed by radiotherapy. Chemotherapy was hard. And as a teenager I missed out on a lot of things over the space of that year. And although the treatment was difficult it worked and saved my life.
Since then I have done fundraising events almost every year (skipping a year or two when I had my miracle baby after being told I would never be able to have children due to the strength of the treatment I received).
The events I have done have varied from parties, walks and runs to skydives and at the end of last week, The Christie’s first ever firewalk!
One of my friends at work told me about the event and I had seen it in The Christie newsletter too, but I wasn't sure about doing it until I was asked to join by my friend Julie. Julie’s husband is currently receiving treatment at The Christie.
When the day came I plucked up the courage to turn up and we received an hour’s training. The trainer was a world record holder for walking on hot coals! He told us all that although it seems impossible to be able to put our bare skin on something so hot, it is in fact very possible and wouldn't cause any lasting effects.
After the training session we were taken outside and put into groups.
This is when I saw the hot embers and my fear kicked in again. But our trainer was the first one to walk across to show us that it can be done with ease.
When it was my turn I stood staring at the glowing coals and my brain was telling me I was foolhardy to be considering this. But the crowd was cheering me on and I set off.
It felt like I thought it would, like I was walking across extremely hot coals, some small embers were sneaking in between my toes and burning my skin, but the walk wasn't long and by the time I was off I was wiping my feet and dipping them into buckets of ice water.
The team then asked me if I wanted another go and of course I said yes.
After two walks across the ‘fire’ I was surprised to see that there were no blisters or raw skin and that my feet weren't sore at all.
I would definitely recommend others try this event as it helps to conquer fear and also it isn't an average fundraising event either, which I think is the reason why I managed to raise over £1500! Thanks to all my friends and colleagues who sponsored me.
So I will keep on doing these events, no matter how outlandish they seem at first, because it is all worth it to help such an important hospital and support the hard work that they do every day to save more and more lives.
A tiny bit of pain is nothing compared to what the patients are going through and all the money goes towards a better future for people living with cancer.
If you want to know more about our charity fundraising activities please go to www.christies.org/get-involved/