Thursday, 20 March 2014

Twelve Gruelling Hours To Do Some Good

I don't know anyone who has not in some way been personally effected by the cruel hand that cancer indiscriminately deals. Directly or indirectly the "Big C" has touched everyone of our lives causing emotions and feelings ranging from pity for a victim and their family you may have known vaguely, to the unbelievable grief and devastation that losing a loved one can hammer you down with.

Advances in medical science are increasing the chances of prolonged life and increasingly, total recovery, for many victims is absolutely achievable. Without doubt though the ultimate aim is to totally eradicate all forms of Cancer. The constant battle for the scientists slowly but surely doing the incredible research towards this dream goal is, as always, COLD....HARD....CASH!

On May 25th 2014 The MAT Academy is holding a Twelve Hour Marathon Grapple and our ladies class are going to hold a Twelve Hour Marathon Pad Bash to help The Farmers Arms 2014 Appeal to raise money for research into one of the biggest killer diseases in Britain, Bowel Cancer.

Make no bones about it this is a massive and gruelling undertaking with the aim to have people rolling or punching for the whole twelve hours working in relay or rounds. I know there are are a couple of the guys who want to roll for the entire twelve hours. GO FOR IT!!

Participation will cost of £20 or more which you can just pay up front or raise in sponsorship. Those of you who don't want to do the twelve hours can come along any time of the day to roll or hit pads as long as you donate the £10 to the fund.

As well as participants, we will need a whole bunch of volunteers to make teas, coffees, run down the shop for food and boost morale to keep us going when we'll want to give up.

If any businesses, shop owners or individuals want to help out with Food, Water or cash donations we would be hugely grateful.

If there is a sports masseuse or chiropractor that would like to offer their services for the day you would be more than welcome... AHEM! Sari Botros, Richard Hughes and Andrew Thomas are you listening!!

Any first aiders or medics that would like to volunteer their time  would also be welcome as I envisage an injury or two.

A small marquee is required for participants to store their bags and for our volunteer medic and body rubbers to set up in. Does anybody know of anyone that can provide this?

More details of this marathon fundraising event will be posted over the next few weeks. Sponsorship forms are available at The MAT Academy.

So come on guys, on Sunday May 25th from 7am to 7pm lets spend twelve gruelling hours doin something we all love to do good and raise a big lump of cash for Cancer Research.

Right then, the following is a BLOG I wrote around three years ago following the devastating loss of my beautiful  big sister Lee to bowel cancer. Thousands of individuals and their families suffer the fallout of a Cancer diagnosis every day. Let's do our bit to try and end this kind of heartache.

The Hopeful Hypocrite

God: Someone I was made to sing about in school - Kills indiscriminately.

Allah: Similar to God. Terrorists seem to really like him.

Jesus Christ: Relative of God. I was made to sing about him in school as well. In December his songs heralded the coming of Santa Claus.

Buddha: Happy little fat dude. His followers are kick-ass martial artists.

If I've offended any of you with the above.....Get over it! Look...I understand that belief in religion brings great comfort and gives true meaning to life and death for millions of people throughout the world. Let's face it; they burn incense and chant, ring bells and hold extravagant festivals, mutilate the genitals of children and sacrifice countless lives waging wars and committing horrific acts of terrorism with a huge human cost.... So yeah, I absolutely understand and should bloody well hope that for them, religion is of huge importance and significance!

As retarded as I feel religion is, I am not, as you may have concluded, some Muslimophobic, Christian bashing, Richard Dawkins wannabe.Far from it and if I may say so, taking the further liberty of blasphemy, "God forbid!" I just really need to vent some timely frustration and anger at any omnipresent all powerful One/Many that may be eaves dropping on my thoughts, should He...She...It...They... exist. I also want to make it crystal it clear that I've always considered myself an atheist.

Truth be told, I've always had a fascination with the world's religions and have wasted many an hour scouring the documentary channels absorbed in tales of miracles and messiahs and prophets and apostles. The unequivocal truth of the Bible is that its the greatest story book ever written and lets face it, it must be. Look at all the movie spin-offs! With stories of unbelievable violence and sex, torture and sex, insanity and incest (isn't that sex?), it's a scriptwriters wet dream.

Being a Karateka I've developed a passing interest in the Asian and Japanese religions of Buddhism, Shinto and Taoism, as many of their peaceful, pagan beliefs are entwined throughout the philosophies of many Karate Masters. Buddhism holds most appeal to me with its "Five Promises" to

  1. Not harm a living thing
  2. Never steal
  3. Not be greedy
  4. Not to use drugs
  5. Not to drink alcohol
These are are at least achievable compared to the demands of other, more "mainstream" beliefs, though one of these promises is just too much to ask. I do do enjoy an ice cold Bohemian style beer.

So there we have it. I have clearly made the point that I have no faith in any religion or belief system and am therefore Atheist.

Peculiar then that when tragedy came barging its way through my family's door I'd very often catch myself saying a prayer or hoping for a miracle. I'd hold whole conversations with, I don't know who, perhaps one or all of the guys holding the top position in one of the beliefs mentioned above.  It mattered not to me which deity gave response, be it Muslim, Hebrew, Christian or Voodoo. I decided to keep all options open and realising that desperate times often require desperate measures, I exercised my right to a little hopeful hypocrisy.

Alas and as expected all my wishes, prayers and blood sacrifices were in vain.

By the time a correct diagnosis was made it was already too late for Lee. She knew it and tried to keep it hidden behind a mask of unbelievable bravery and courage. I could see it in her eyes from the start though; she knew it was just a matter of time.

Whilst those of us closest to her frantically rallied about treading on egg shells, avoiding any talk of the inevitable and doing our very best to maintain a positive outlook, I swear that quite incredibly, she was doing exactly the same for us. Determined to be with her children for as long as possible and with an often strained but always stunning smile, she fought to keep the family pecker up.Suffering months of chemotherapy and painful trial treatments she stalled the growing blackness within her for as long as she possibly could.

I am convinced that Lee eked out as many precious moments as she could from what remained of her cruelly shortened existence so that we, her family and her children, could properly prepare for the fact that she would soon be gone. Christmas 2009 at my little sister's house was to be Lee's last and the greatest family Christmas I can remember.Her last birthday spent at Velindre Cancer hospital was a bitter-sweet affair, bringing together a family gathering rarely seen and creating an eternally precious memory for those of us there.

"Only the good die young". Is that phrase from a book or a film? I don't know but in Lee's case it's spot on.Today June 27th 2010 is my sisters forty-ninth birthday and in a around a month's time it will be the first anniversary of her death at the hands of cancer. Cancer....Cancer!.....CANCER!! This cruel, undiscerning, indiscriminate, evil fucking bastard of a disease has nothing short of ravaged our and countless other families of their loved ones for far too long!!!

Now I won't spew the usual post-mortem rhetoric of what a fine, upstanding, wonderful and beautiful person my older sister was because unless you knew her it's meaningless. And hey! Let's be honest here, we've all been to funerals of people of shall we say, "colourful character", where the eulogies have been so gushing and shining that you have to check you're at the right one.

So instead, think of it this way. Lee was no more ordinary or extraordinary, nor more happy or sad, no more good or bad, and no more special and precious than your sister, brother, father or mother is to you. Lee was a human being and like all of our species she had a multitude of faults, had made many mistakes in her life and wasn't perfect by a long chalk.

To the wider world then, there was nothing special about Lee at all but; to her children she was a mother and therefore irreplaceable; to my parents she was their daughter and first-born, therefore precious beyond belief; to me and Samantha she was our big sister who we thought would always be there and to the rest of the family she was simply "Our Lee"....... Now she's gone forever.

Or has she? You see in the year since her death, Lee has become a grandmother to Ruby-Lee and an Aunt to Samantha's second baby, Mathilde. If I were a religious person, I would perhaps believe that a part of Lee is reincarnated within our two new additions and that divinity has granted her soul the right of transmigration into them. If I just had some kind of faith I would have the comfort of knowing for sure that she's up there somewhere in Heaven, Nirvana or even Valhalla watching their backs, standing proudly behind them with a guardian angel's protective hand on their tiny vulnerable shoulders. Hmm... I like that idea so I'll exercise a little more of that hopeful hypocrisy, if you don't mind.

But of course a part of Lee is in them and I don't need faith to believe or prove it. They of are of the same fine stock, same blood, they're family. Inevitably there have been times when a certain look or mannerism, smile or sound of laughter, frown or gesture brings Lee right back into the room with us and we will knowingly share a glad/sad smile or glance.

Now Lee wasn't a religious person either but she was however, spiritual, well read and I think she would have liked this:

Lee had made plans for her own funeral and the music she chose for her final farewell was Starlight by Muse, which combined with my contemplation and questioning of her death, religion and everything, went and triggered a line of thought concerning the possibility of re-incarnation and a possible after-life.

Bear with me, I haven't lost the plot!

A scientific fact is that all the matter in the universe including us is born of stars. When large stars come to the end of their lives and go super-nova, the shear scale, beauty and violence of the biggest explosions in the universe create all matter needed for the creation of everything and on extremely rare occasions, of which only one is known....LIFE.

Sometime in the distant future our local star, the sun, is going to expand, engulf the planets, then explode, obliterating the solar system including our little planet and blasting the remnants out into the cosmos. Amongst that debris will be the remains of the entire human race. Millennia after millennia of human matter that the planet has absorbed through wars, disease and nature's cycle will be cast out into the endless depths of space to be collected into massive clouds of cosmic dust or nebulae which are the birth places and nurseries of young stars and star systems.

Through this process we could all one day be reincarnated in some form or another...though recycled is perhaps a more accurate description.Billions of years into the future, you could be: a particle of gas, a molecule of water, a bug, a leaf, a little green man or even the briefest moment of intense energy as a new star bursts into life. If this is possible, who's to say we can't be human again, or even ourselves again. Life caught in an infinite cycle of creation, destruction and recreation.

So don't don't sweat the small stuff because if you can't get everything done today, you can do it in a billion years or so.

Apologies for veering off on a tangent but it was just a thought for those of us without the delusion....sorry....comfort, of faith. However, I would suggest that in desperate times when all other options appear to have failed and just in case there is an omnipresent, all benevolent One controlling our destinies, you should do as I did and; make a little wish, drone out a Buddhist chant, say a little prayer and exercise your right to a little hopeful hypocrisy.

"Far away, this ship has taken me far away, far away from the memories of the people who care if I live or die" Muse Starlight

Great song but inappropriate lyric really because you're always in our thoughts sis xxx

A final and very, very, very important point for all of you. Lee suffered with stomach pain and other symptoms for three years and was fobbed off by G.P.'s and hospitals for all that time with treatment for stomach ulcers. The correct diagnosis was only finally made when my mother refused to leave a hospital with Lee until they did more extensive tests but by then it was too late. THREE YEARS!!!

No one knows your body like you do. If you have the slightest doubt about your health, insist on blood-works and make your G.P. listen. It could save your life and your family untold grief and heart-break.

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