I became ill in 2007 when I had just started to use the computer and mobile Internet was something that was more frustrating than useful! During my transplant, I spent six weeks locked away with only a lot of buffering to keep me company. How times have changed, and for the better I believe. The Internet has enabled me to do the work I do, and become a well known name in the global cancer sector. It has enabled me to connect with many clinicians, patients and charities to help share innovation and best practice.
One of the most exciting things I have been able to do recently is take up an offer to visit Palestine and Jerusalem. They wanted me to talk about my work and particularly collaboration. They had seen our progress on the Internet and wanted to find out more. Talks were set up for me across Hebron and Jerusalem, meeting many local dignitaries, and patients. This was extremely powerful for me, as these people had all checked out my website and were excited about my visit. It is an extremely rare thing that a cancer patient from the UK visits the area to share their experience.
Hebron has a very close community and wherever I went people knew about me and wanted to take pictures.
It was a whirlwind trip and on one particular visit I saw a couple of young ladies who had also been to a previous presentation I had done. They waited patiently until the end, where they wanted to speak to me privately. It seemed they were studying computer design, and had chosen to make a short film about cancer. They weren’t affected but they obviously knew many who were.
They asked me if I would share the film on my website, as they wanted it to be seen across the world, which unfortunately is quite difficult to do living in Palestine. I was absolutely thrilled to be asked, even though I had no idea what the film would look like. We have kept in touch since our meeting and as promised, they sent me the film. It brought tears to my eyes when I watched it for the first time. So powerful from a team of incredibly talented people!
During a lot of our life we have a very narrow view of things, focussing on our jobs, family, money and social issues, rarely taking the time to look up. But since my illness I have ensured that I take every possible opportunity that I can, to understand more about how other people live. I saw so many things during my trip I would never have experienced at home. I met people who had almost nothing, but would have given anything they could. I saw people smiling at very simple things, and my story was able to inspire many.
My life is almost entirely about giving, and helping people, nothing can give me more satisfaction than that. People of all ages of course but I find it particularly powerful when speaking to young people. They have a totally different view of things, fresh eyes, ideas and enthusiasm. Of course with the incredible technology we have now they can make a big impact, and do things we could never imagine. The world is changing quickly now and we need to find new answers to old problems. Our young people are the best chance we have.
Despite all the money and brains in the world being thrown at it, we are still no nearer any cure. Also we are still either cutting, poisoning, or burning it with radiotherapy, which we have been doing for centuries. While we continue down this path we are still creating more issues for people to deal with beyond their treatment. This is where we need to liven up!! We are facing issues we have never seen before and therefore cannot rely on history for the answers. The Internet etc are the tools we have never had before and are still learning to use. We have to experiment to find out what we can achieve them.
We are living longer WITH cancer, which is a wonderful thing of course, but this is where we face our new problems. We cannot afford as a society to discriminate against people affected by cancer, particularly in the workplace. It is not only the economy that suffers but our Health Service, as people lose their identity and consequentially begin suffering with mental health issues.
I can see the incredibly positive things that can be achieved with the technology we have today, which is only going to improve, and if I am honest I wish I had use of these tools 20 years ago, when I was growing my business!! I would have been a very wealthy man, but would have still got cancer of course!
I am honoured to share this wonderful video with you all, and hope you can understand why it is so special to me!!