Patient Perspective – Taking to the skies

In August, our resident patient blogger Vickie took on a skydive in aid of her fellow blood cancer patients, raising an amazing £600. Here, she’s written about the experience, and why you too should consider taking to the skies this year.

8th August—a big, scary, terrifying day for me. In fact, I didn’t think I would do it. Today was my skydive. At 11am, at Langar Airfield.

We arrived at the airfield and all I could see were people coming out of the sky. I thought, ‘I really have to do that.’ I was scared, who wouldn’t be?

I checked in and said my skydive was for charity, Leukaemia Care. I was given a face mask as we still had to wear that, even jumping out the sky. It has now become my keepsake from the amazing day I had.

The day was amazingly hot, blue skies, with the odd white fluffy sky. I had my briefing before the jump. I was told the three most important things:

  1. When ready to fall from the plane, sit on the edge of the plane, feet tucked under the plane and drop.
  2. When my skydiver who I was attached to tapped my back, whilst freefalling at 120mph for a minute, I was to put both my arms out.
  3. When we landed, my feet were to be up in the air, as if I was in the sitting position so my instructor could land the both of us.

I thought, Okay, I must remember. But I was feeling nervous and not wanting to do it at all. We didn’t have jumpsuits or wear a helmet like I thought we would. I had to wear the clothes I was in, a t-shirt and leggings and no helmet. This was all to do with the COVID-19 procedure.

However, after a few hours of waiting, it was my turn. I walked with the rest of the other instructors with their beginner skydivers to the plane. The plane’s engine was on, waiting for us all. I walked up some wooden ladders into the plane and sat on a bench, along with everyone else. All that was in the plane were two benches and a roll-up door, which was kept open whilst taking off and the majority of the flight. I was thinking: ‘Please close the door, I don’t want to fall out.

Towards the height we were jumping out, the door closed for a while and then the red light turned to green. The first skydiver went out, who was my dad, and then it was my turn. Whilst in the plane getting to the height, I sat in front of my instructor and he was connecting my harness to himself, making sure it was safe, tight and strapped to him. I could feel him pulling the straps, tighter and tighter. Then it was my turn. We shuffled forward off the bench onto the floor, then the edge of the plane. We were very high; we were among clouds at 14,000ft. I looked out thinking, ‘I cannot change my mind at all now,’ as we were waiting to fall out. I have never been so scared in all my life. I could hardly see the houses and I was the same height as clouds; it wasn’t normal.

Then we went. We fell out the plane, with my feet tucked under. I felt him tap my shoulders and I opened up my arms. The freefall was amazing. I have never felt such an amazing feeling, heading towards the ground; even though we were doing about 120mph for the next 60 seconds, it didn’t feel like it. There was no sickly feeling in my stomach, like you get on a rollercoaster. I was smiling and shouting but no one could hear me, only me. The smile on my face was beaming; I had a mask on though so you couldn’t see it, but you could tell by my eyes I was on cloud nine and enjoying every minute of it.

He then pulled the parachute, and up we went again. That was an odd feeling, but an amazing one. There I was floating in the sky, looking down on earth. I could see for miles and miles; I am luck I had the perfect weather day. It was truly amazing to see earth from that height. It was quiet and tranquil. It was a beautiful moment I will always treasure.

However, coming down, my instructor said, “Do you want me to do a big turn?” Me being me, I said yes. So, we did, and yes it was amazing and we did another. However, I do not like spinning things, so I don’t know why I agreed to it.

After that, coming down to land, I felt out of breath and sick, and found it hard to lift my legs so I used my hands to try and lift them. I managed and we landed perfect. When we landed, I fell flat out on the ground; I think all my emotions and adrenaline caught up with me. I could hardly talk; I was out of breath as if I had done a big workout in the gym. I thanked my instructor as he was amazing and said I would enjoy it. He was right, I loved it, but next time I won’t be spinning.

It was amazing to be able to do an event like this for charity, and I raised £600. I didn’t think I would raise that much but I am so happy that I did. That’s a lot of money for Leukaemia Care to use.

I’d like to thank the staff at Langar Airfield for an amazing day. They were great in every way. The day I had was super amazing. I still get goose bumps all over thinking about what I did, me jumping out of a plane at 14,000 feet. I would definitely recommend this to anyone. Yes, it’s very scary at first, but it wouldn’t be normal not to have any feelings of anxiety. When you jump out that plane and look below, it’s truly amazing.

Cost of Living Fund

A financial grant of £150 is available for people affected by leukaemia, MDS and MPN amidst the cost of living crisis in the UK.

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