The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust takes young people aged between 8-24 sailing to help them regain their confidence, on their way to recovery from cancer. For more information please visit... www.ellenmacarthurcancertrust.org
28 January 2013
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West Midlands' Fundraising Page
The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust is a national organisation that gives young people between the ages of 8-24 who have suffered from cancer the opportunity to take part in the new and fantastic experience of sailing.
Use this page to help us support a young person from the West Midlands, like Rajpal.
Rajpal from Wolverhampton was 13 when a lump appeared on his neck. The doctor dismissed it, simply prescribing antibiotics, but when Raj began having difficulty eating, they went back for tests.
A specialist eventually told Raj’s father Narjit it was cancer, which was now wrapping round his jaw and spinal chord. Narjit and Raj’s Mum Suki remember sitting down to tell Raj. Suki said, “When we all found out it was a shock, but the focus was just on thinking what needed to happen next. We all just wanted to get it sorted out as quickly as possible, and Raj’s attitude was just ‘OK, lets get on with it then.”
A biopsy confirmed Stage 3 Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma but luckily it hadn’t spread into the bone. Raj began chemotherapy immediately at Birmingham Children’s Hospital. Suki continues, “It made him really sick but he was determined to be rid of the cancer and so just accepted the awful side-effects. We kept telling him after its all over you’ll be ok. The hospital staff were brilliant, they explained what was happening and we got to know other families on the ward, but there weren’t many teenagers around, it was mainly small children often running about or making noise, which wasn’t the best thing for Raj while he was hooked up to a machine. He lost a lot of weight and he began to loose his hair, but as he’d always worn a turban you didn’t really notice. As soon as it had all fallen out it started growing again.”
Raj started treatment just before the summer holidays so didn’t miss out on too much study. He tried to work from home although he couldn’t concentrate as he felt too ill most of the time, but his friends still visited a lot, which was really good for him. After chemo came radiotherapy, which was the worst part of the treatment for Raj. At the time, the Royal Marsden in London had more accurate radiotherapy and at the end of the summer Raj had to go there every week for treatment, coming home at weekends. Raj remembers, “It gave me sores in my mouth, and it felt like my throat was burning from the inside out, I couldn’t swallow properly, and so they had to put a peg in to feed directly into my stomach.”
The family all pulled together to get through Raj’s illness with the attitude to “do it, beat it, then carry on,” and when Raj was able to go back to school he had the offer of going on the Trust sailing trip. Raj said, “I’d never tried sailing, but the trip was really good. I met so many new people who I’d never have met otherwise and it was good getting to know people my age who’d been through similar stuff and lived near me. Everyone looked out for each other and we were all dealing with the same things. I came back to Bradwell the year after, which was a really funny trip, and met even more people, it was the best part of my life so far, and earlier this year I took part in the Round the Island Race.
“The Trip was really great, I got to meet Ellen and got to sail with her which was amazing! I also got to visit the Race Village at the Yacht Haven and take part in all the activities they had there, which was awesome! Hopefully I can go back next year!”
Rajpal is now doing his A-levels and is applying to universities. He hopes to study Particle Physics at university and pursue a PHD in that field, and we wish him the best of luck, and look forward to seeing him again in the future.