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13
Apr
Taking to the skies for LC

written by

Leukaemia Care, Charity

  • Alison's skydive

By Alison Bennett

 

I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in May 2016, at age 46, after a routine operation that identified I had an enlarged spleen. This was a big shock as I was a busy mum with two teenagers and a full-time job.

From the outset, I was determined that my diagnosis was not going to define me or limit what I was going to do. Still, I had to become accustomed to the medication, side effects and hospital visits, and I also had to tell my wider network of friends and family. I found the advice from Leukaemia CARE’s website really helpful in providing good information on how to deal with things and how others were managing.

Signing up for the tandem skydive was a way to let people know, in a positive way, that although I had been diagnosed with CML, I was getting on with life. I got the idea from the LC newsletter! It would be a way for me to tell people what I had and also, through sponsoring, a way for people to show their support without having to feel they needed to ask what they could do to help.

So, I decided I was doing it, and then I read the medical declaration form and realised I would need my consultant’s support if this was going to happen. My care team and Advanced Nurse Practitioner (ANP) were extremely supportive and duly signed the form once my anaemia had cleared, which meant I could register for the skydive.

Fundraising was easy due to my brilliant friends and family who stumped up the cash with just a few emails sent. I raised the minimum target of £500 in one week, with the final total at £1,350. I also felt hugely supported by the messages people posted on my fundraising web page.

I wasn’t nervous or excited building up to the day; I just knew this was what I wanted to do. The jump was cancelled a couple of times due to weather, so when we finally got to the day I couldn’t believe I was actually going to do it! I arrived at the airfield, supported by my husband and daughter (who I think were a bit nervous by this time) and quickly received the briefing and sorted out all the paperwork. We then had to wait until it was my turn, but once my name was called there was no time to think!

I was soon in the aeroplane and up to 13,000ft (which is quite high!). The door opened and out we went, as easy as falling off a log (albeit a very high one). I had complete faith in my tandem instructor and photographer – who we can thank for the amazing photos. The free fall was fast, but we were soon floating and came down to earth with a very light bump.

After the jump, I felt a sense of achievement, and I was pleased that I had been able to do it. It was only at this point that I realised that perhaps my family didn’t really want me to do it. However, they also know that once I have decided, I will do what I want to do, and that was more important for me than ever; doing something for me. And the best bit was all the support I got from everyone to help me achieve this, including my hospital team, who said seeing me doing this and living life to the full made them happy!

I would recommend it to others, but you need to want to do it. I won’t do it again as there are too many other exciting things in the world to have a go at! As well as family and work to get on with....

 

If you’d like to take on a skydive for LC, you can find out more here.

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