Cure Leukaemia Crowns 2023 Christmas Award Winners
We celebrated the incredible achievements of the CL Family throughout 2023
Luckily for Julian, he was able to see his GP in a matter of days and a blood test was booked immediately upon him describing how he was feeling. The following day, he received a call at 6:30am from the Haematology Department at his local hospital in Basildon and asked him to come in urgently – which filled Julian with a bad feeling.
Julian was told he had Mixed Phenotype Acute Leukaemia (MPAL).
“I don’t remember much about that (being diagnosed), but I do remember sitting outside shortly afterwards with my wife Claire. She asked me what I was thinking. I think I simply replied that I thought I was going to die.”
Because of the complicated nature of his diagnosis, he was referred directly to Barts Hospital in London. A quick journey home to pack a bag and head straight off again while Claire took care of trying to organise family life with two teenage children at home. Upon arrival, Doctors explained how the coming months would look for Julian and how it would affect his life moving forwards. The diagnosis made little sense to him at the time, as in his words, “I had very little understanding of leukaemia, but the most important thing was that they had laid out a plan.”
Julian was scheduled to receive 3-4 rounds of chemotherapy and the potential of a bone marrow transplant if required.
When he was admitted to the ward that afternoon, he wouldn’t leave again for almost eight weeks. There were various ups and downs for Julian with time spent on different wards along with Intensive Care on a couple of occasions. He would eventually leave the hospital after an uneasy period before spending a further two months there for his transplant – living out of the hospital hostel and heading into the day unit for treatment every day.
Being a self-employed digital media consultant, Julian unfortunately to make the swift decision to let all of his clients go straight away so that he could focus on his treatment. It very quickly dawned on him that he didn’t really want to continue in that profession in the long term.
“It changed everything really. I can’t imagine what it was like for my wife, our kids, my Dad, brother and Claire’s family, or all my friends, having to hear the news. For me it was always a bit unreal; I just got on with it; doctors and nurses prodded and poked me, there’s a whole new routine you soon get used to.”
“There were periods where I did feel quite unwell – but others where I felt fine, even in hospital, and you have to get used to just waiting for something to happen, blood tests to improve, so you can go home and move on to the next stage.”
“But Claire was able to stay with me in hospital the whole time, and it definitely made our relationship stronger. We’ve actually reflected on how we’ve enjoyed it in a very strange way, as it’s allowed us to spend more prolonged time together than at any time during our marriage.
Julian is still required to take a chemo-drug daily for the foreseeable future which keeps his CML at a very negligible level
The Covid lockdown allowed him to focus on the launch of Goode Walks while he recovered from his stem cell transplant. As a result of having to shield due his clinically vulnerable status, he spent time planning, reading and preparing to launch the business.
“I found my way around to turning my walking hobby into a potential new job – which eventually led me two years later to qualify as a Mountain Training Lowland Leader, set a plan to pick up lots of other qualifications, and start up my new business, Goode Walks, as a walk leader.”
For Julian, having a plan to hold on to helped him enormously through the highs and lows of his cancer journey – both a treatment plan, knowing what’s coming up ahead and what it will entail; and having a plan for what he wanted to do in the months and years ahead, with work and family life.
“One of my consultants said to me that I hadn’t come through everything in that first year not to then get out and live. It was good advice. Balance risk, be careful, but make the most of everything you can, every day.”
From the launch of Goode Walks and being able to get back outside again, it has been hugely beneficial to both Julian’s mental and physical health.
“It was a target and a bonus to be able to walk again at all, after periods where I could barely get out of bed in hospital, and couldn’t even walk to the toilet. “
“There was the challenge of being able to walk, walk a bit further, a bit longer, up a hill, get outdoors and enjoy it; all of it being good for my physical recovery, and rebuilding my immune system and general wellbeing. Eventually I found I could walk 20-mile days, clock up 1000+ miles in a year, walk every day and explore a lot of countryside.”
We are delighted to working alongside Julian and Goode Walks to launch out Mount Snowdon Challenge this May!
Join us for our very first walk up Mount Snowdon and take on the highest mountain in England and Wales.