In 2006 I was lifting weights at the gym when I felt a pinch on my right shoulder. I went home and had a mole that didn’t look right so I went to the doctor and was referred to the dermatologist at Milton Keynes Hospital. I was diagnosed with skin cancer and a malignant melanoma on my right shoulder blade and had four operations that year to remove 3 moles on my shoulder and one on my waistline. The signs were good that the cancer had been removed.
In November 2015 I was at the gym and noticed that my strength was decreasing and I was getting weaker. I found a lump under my right armpit and went to the doctors, had a biopsy and it was confirmed as cancer (malignant melanoma). I was referred to Stoke Mandeville Hospital and had a CT scan before having an operation to remove the Lymph Nodes. The operation took a few hours and I was in the hospital for 4 days. 33 malignant lymph nodes were removed.
I went home and had a fluid bag stitched into my right hand side which I had for about ten days. A little while after I was rushed into A&E after suffering a breathing problem. I saw a specialist, went for a scan and was diagnosed with a viral lung infection.
The day after, I went to the doctors again. I was feeling depressed and needed help. The doctor referred me to Willen Hospice. Graham, one of the Clinical Nurse Specialists at Willen Hospice who visits people in the community, came to my house to see me. I spoke to him for an hour – he listened and gave me advice.
I was having a lot of pain and limited movement in my arm following the operation and saw a cancer specialist at the hospital. He referred me to the Lymphoedema clinic at Willen Hospice and the team there have been supporting me, helping me with aftercare. The exercises the Physiotherapist has helped me with and the sleeve, taping and advice given by the Lymphoedema team have both helped with the mobility of my arm and reduced my pain. The team also showed my mum how to apply the support so it could be done at home. I also attended the Wellbeing Centre and received lots of support to help with the mental battle that I’ve gone through. The nurses offered advice, listened to me and given me so much support – I cannot fault them for their help and kindness. Jim, one of the volunteers at the Wellbeing Centre, helped me with tips on how to relax and even gave me a CD to listen to at home to help with relaxation.
With cancer, once you have the all clear that’s when another battle begins. I have ups and downs, flashbacks and have struggled with depression. Without Willen Hospice, I wouldn’t have known how to get through this. I’ve gone back to the gym to work on my physio and am now planning on doing trips around the world as I had done previously.
Hello Mum and Dad
Gary picked us up from Christchurch airport on Monday
arvo and we went straight to an Antartic Centre next
to the airport. It was all about the south pole and we
went into a makeshift base camp and they turned on the
cold fans, so the temp went down to -25’c. Good job i
brought my fleece! Then we went on a snow
mobile(haagland) that went round an assort course. All
Then i had my first look of a hostel were i got a
shower and change. By this time i was thirsty so we
went to the pub in town. An irish bar, and i tried the
Guiness, not the same as the scots club. We had roast
dinner for tea, for about 2 quid, at another
backpackers and loads more beer. There was 2 bunks in
the room and this girl came back from the shower in
the morning and slipped into her bra and thong. These
mixed dorms have lovely views and that’s not even
looking out of the window!!
The next day Gary drove north to Nelson and we stopped
off at Kaikoura. I had a massive fried breakfast for 6
quid and couldnt eat it all. Then i was taking photo’s
of a fur seal on some rocks, i got a bit close and it
went for me. I’ve never moved so fast, Gary and
everyone else was laughing.
We got to Nelson and arrived at another hostel. They
had a jacuzzi spa and a sauna. Me and Gary jumped into
the spa and was joined by 2 scots girls. Very nice,
say no more. That night we went into town and they had
a 2 for 1 meal deal on in a pub. I was chatting the
bar maid up and we kept on drinking then we had a lock
in. The bar maid wanted to take me home but i told her
i’ve got to be up for 7 to go Kayaking!!
The next morning we got up early, with a hangover, and
had a free breakie in the hostel then we caught a tour
bus that took us to Abel Tasman National Park and we
went sea kayaking. The sun was shining and it was a
great day. Met lots of nice and friendly people and
Tassie the tour guide took us to see the baby seals.
That night when we got back to the hostel we were both
knackered so we jumped in the spa again, then headed
off down to the local. The bar maid was there on her
night off and she gave us table service while we had
our dinner. These kiwi people are very friendly. We
had another big night drinking and she wanted to take
me home again but the kayaking had worn me out!
We headed to Fox glacier on the west coast the next
day, about a 7 hour drive. We had a buffet dinner for
7 quid and loads more beer. Bumped into Oskar from
Holland in the bar that we met at the bus stop in
Nelson. There was karoke in the bar and Gary got up
and sang to a fat bird!! That night in the four bed
dorm, one another lad took his matress out into the
lounge to sleep because he reckons i snore like a
The next day we done a glacier walk with a tour guide
for a full day. We had boots provided that we had to
put these clamps onto the bottom when walking on the
ice. Met loads more nice people and Dave are tour
guide. Took loads of pics and used one film up just on
That night Gary met this girl he knows from back home
and we went for a meal with her and her friends. They
had a bloke singing in the bar and everyone was up
dancing and this 65 year old grabbed hold of me and
wouldnt let go! Another girl took her bra off and put
it onto a deers skull as a pair of glasses! It was a
good night and we didnt get in until 3. A girl in the
room got up and slept on a couch in the lounge,
because she reckons i snore as well!!!
We had to check out for 10 in the morning and then
Gary drove for about 5 hours down to Wanaka. Staying
here for tonight then going to Queenstown. The sun has
been shining all week and i havent seen rain yet,
which is good.
Having lots of fun and i’ll be in touch soon with more
Might not be coming home, it’s that good out here.
Gary says to say hello.
All the best
Well i’ll start where i left off. After coming off the
computer in Wanaka, i picked up a magazine. Gary had a
look at it and a joke he sent them had been published,
so he has won a bungy jump!
We went down by the beautiful lake in Wanaka and took
some picks. Then went back to the hostel to chill out.
Nice place, we were in a four bed dorm with en-suite
with a couple of chicks, what more could you ask for.
Went to an irish pub for dinner that night and i had a
nice steak meal while Gary had bacon and cabbage. More
like pig and cabbage, it was huge, Gary said his never
seen anything like it. Went out for a few beers that
night but everywhere closed at 12 because it was ANZAC
day on the Sunday.
Left Wanaka and went across the Crown Range to
Queenstown. Just driving out of Wanaka and there’s
these two lovely female backpackers thumbing for a
lift. So the gentlemen we are we picked them up. Had a
good chat and a laugh with them on the way back to
Q’town. Stopped off at the bra fence(a wire fence by
the side of the road with hundreds of bra’s on it) and
the girls left one of there’s on it!!
Got into Q’town after a fantastic scenic drive and
dropped off all the gear at Gary’s place, then went
into town. Returned the hire car in one piece and went
and had a pint of Guiness in another irish bar. Gary
had to work that night so i went back to the pub for a
meal when Gary went to work at 7. He managed to get
finished at 10.30 and met me in a pub called Winnies,
it’s roof opens up so that you can see the stars. Best
air conditioning i ever seen.
Monday we had a chill out day. Done all my washing and
hand washed my socks before putting it in the top
loader. As you know that was the first time i’ve ever
done my own washing, but you still do it better Mum!!
Went out that night for a curry and met some of Gary’s
friends. It was $10 curry night, so cheap as. Had a
good meal then went for some more drinks in Winnies
again. Met these irish girls and stayed out until 4
drinking with them. Gary pulled the blonde one, havin
a snog with her at the bar!!
Had a bit of a hang over the next day. Gary drove to
Glenorchy. It’s where they filmed most of Lord of the
Rings. Went on a unsealed road to Paradise as well.
Took loads of pic’s, some awesome views and met
someone that was actually in the film. That night Gary
had to work so i went down the Gym for a couple of
hours and then got a KFC for dinner. Went back home
and it was good to have a night off the beer.
Wednesday we went to Arrowtown. We were lucky to get
on a tour of a Lord of the Rings sights. It was only
$15pp and it was a special for one day only for there
winter festival. It lasted about an hour and the
driver pointed out lots of places where they filmed.
He was in the film as well. I took a whole roll of
photo film just that day. Gary reckons i’m worse then
the Snap Happy Jappy’s that we see about!!
We went and saw the bungy bridge as well, where the
first ever bungy jump took place. I was going to have
a go but didn’t have enough cash in my wallet,
Gary was working that night but i met his mates that
we went for a curry with and had a game of pool.
Wasn’t no fighting thou! Gary met us at 10 o’clock and
we all had some more beers. Went to our favourite bar
again Winnies and chatted to some more ladies. Grabbed
a famous Fergburger(massive) on the way home and
shared a taxi ride at about 3. Hope you liked the
surprise phone call Dad. Sorry if i was a bit pissed
but Gary is a bad influence on us.
Well that’s all for now, enjoy.
After a heavy night on Wednesday we didn’t get out of
bed until about 11. That’s still early for Gary! We
went for a walk into Queenstown and decided to have a
$5 bangers, peas, mash and gravy to soak up the
alcohol. It was in the pig and whistle pub in town but
we didn’t go for the hair of the dog.
That arvo we went on the gondola. It goes right up the
mountain and you have awesome views on Queenstown.
Managed to both get a free ride, because it was a girl
that Gary was chatting up the night before and he
remembered her name. Gary was sweating like mad
because he doesn’t like heights. After we took some
photo’s we had a go on a luge ride. It’s like a
plastic tray with wheels, brakes and steering that you
sit in and go down a contrete track. Great fun and we
got that free as well because Gary’s mate works on it.
Gary cooked a spag bol for dinner and we had a bottle
of wine and a few beers. We were both stuffed and
couldn’t move afterwards so we decided to have a night
in. A few games of Connect 4 were played, i won’t
mention the score but i think gary has played before.
Gary had a voucher for a free bungy so the next
morning we headed out to the bungy bridge site again.
Gary drove straight past saying it was closed and we
went to the Winery instead. Eventually we headed back
to the bungy site and Gary said that i could have the
prize as a present. I told Gary that i couldn’t except
it and he booked in for the jump. Well i and everyone
else was waiting a long time for him to jump and
numerous countdown’s from the staff and a shake of the
arms and legs but he didn’t go. We were all shouting
encouragement from the viewing platform. Then one of
the staff gave him a helping hand or was it a push,
and he was flying through the air down to the river.
He got dunked upto his waist and loved every second of
We then headed back into town and i had a tattoo done.
It was at a place called White Tiger. He does tattoo’s
for Maori’s and some of the All Black rugby team. He
is supposed to be the best in NZ. I had a Maori symbol
of the sun, his own design, tattooed on my chest. He
photograghed it afterwards for his portfolio. It took
about an hour and half to complete. We both went into
an irish pub for happy hour at 4 to celebrate our
achievements that day. Met Gary’s friends and decided
to go and get some meat for a bbq and a few beers. Had
a great barbie where Gary lives, then headed into town
at 9 o’clock. What a great night we had, not getting
in until 6 in the morning.
Saturday well what can i say. Had breakfast at Joe’s
Garage than it was about 2 o’clock. Andy decided the
best thing to do was have another beer. So we went to
the pig and whistle and spent all day in the pub. Well
it was spitting outside, seemed like the best thing to
do. Ended up at home at about 10 o’clock and an early
Sunday we went to a place called Deer Park Heights.
it’s on the outskirts of Queenstown and is were they
filmed quite a few scene’s from Lord of the Rings.
It cost $20 for the car to drive around and upto the
top of the hill. It was fantastic and there was loads
of strange animals up there roaming wild and coming
upto the car. Got some great pics. It was the first
time Gary had been up there and he wished he would
have taken his Mum and Dad as well.
That night Gary cooked a Chicken Curry for dinner. We
had a few beers to wash it down and decided not to go
into town for a change. Probably because we were both
stuffed as he always cooks too much.
Monday my last day here and i’ve seen rain just like
at home. It hasn’t stopped all afternoon. We drove to
Wanaka and we went to this place called Have a Shot.
We fired a .22 rifle on a shooting range and a got a
few bullseyes. All good fun. Then we went to Puzzle
World. Full of different mind puzzles and holograms.
Took some more pics. A great place and cheap as well.
Just in the internet cafe at the mo while it’s raining
cats and dogs outside. Going for a slap up meal
tonight and i’m going to treat Gary, as a thankyou for
such a great time i’ve had over here. Don’t want to
get on that plane tommorrow at 9 in the morning. Might
just sleep in for a change. Well if i’m not at
Heathrow on wednesday morning, you’ll know that i’ve
decided to stay!!
This is a diary of my 2 week Adventure of New
Zealand’s South Island. A time that i’ll never forget.
All the best