Stem cells

BT Belfast Technology Hub - 27 October 2017

(I visited BT colleagues on Friday before chemo in Belfast this coming week, recovery during November and then a donor stem cell transplant in St James’ Hospital, Dublin.

BT Hub

Colleagues asked for access to my notes, and specifically various resources mentioned. My crib notes, fleshed out for this post, follow.)

Health Update
Since I got sick in April and the haematology doctors’ confirmation in May that we were dealing with Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma for the fifth time in 33 years – unlucky! – you, my work colleagues, have been very supportive.

Through a summer of chemo I’ve had excellent medical support with five stays totalling thirty-five days in Belfast City Hospital. These stays would have been longer without care of the excellent Holywood District Nursing team and the medical technology that enables me to get home with a syringe driver.

One day in July, my Google feed queried:

"Belfast City hospital - is this your new workplace?”

Er, NO, definitely not!!

After two cycles of the potent ‘R-ICE’ regime, a PET scan showed “dramatic improvement”.  Two more cycles later and, after two further scans and some scary queries, a huge relief - “You are in total remission.”

So, all sorted then?

Nope.  My faithful immune system is just not doing a good enough job cleaning up rogue cancer cells, so I now need a new one.

The planned schedule from here is:

Next week – preventative chemo in Belfast City Hospital with Bendamustine, a drug new to me

Early December – head to St James’ Hospital, Dublin for donor stem cell transplant.  Using an IT analogy, where Windows 95 is an out-of-support operating system, and the different operating system Linux is available, the plan is

  • a week of conditioning chemo to deprecate my Windows 95 immune system
  • then a stem cell infusion from a very kind anonymous donor, replicating their shiny new Linux 4.13.9 system
  • some weeks insolation in hospital for the donated stem cells to migrate to my bone marrow and 'graft', establishing a new factory for my blood cells.  Critical-level 24/7 onsite support is needed through this phase that my Consultant terms ‘Tiger Country’
  • then, discharged to Ruth’s care for some weeks in nearby Dublin apartment
  • finally, home for a long recovery, with drugs to manage and counterbalance a residual & diminishing Windows 95 with the new Linux system.

Getting through it
I thought I’d mention a few things that have helped get through the past six months.

The toughest thing has been uncertainty at many levels.  Some days, it’s just about clinging on to existence, with Ruth at my side.

Practising basic mindfulness has helped.  After days inside, simply stepping out of hospital, or outside our front door, and just consciously breathing fresh air through my nostrils is real, enjoyable and a relief, reminding me that I’m alive.

In the garden at home, I sometimes sit for five minutes and focus on the leaf of a tree, or individual flower in one of the many pots planted by Ruth.

Slow down.

Breathe.

A sense of grounding, clarity and calm can result.  Notice, connect with – and appreciate – beauty.  I found this free FutureLearn online course on minfulness related to performance in the workplace insightful and applicable.

Also, stories, in various media, have been evocative and helpful.

The action movie Hacksaw Ridge, a true story, features a soldier who must go up a cliff a second time.  Facing treatment again, this second donor transplant will be tougher than the transplant with my own stem cells in 2013.  Army Medic Desmond Doss’ conviction, courage and grit facing awfulness, for a second time, inspires me. 

For a more reflective slant, Tolkien’s short story Leaf by Niggle, (full audio here), depicts an individual working through life’s responsibilities and annoyances.  Leaf by Niggle is an evocative story that, ultimately, suggests Hope into our future.

Support for LLNI – BT Couch to 5K
My Dublin Consultant is Prof. Elizabeth Vandenberghe, who introduced my specific type of transplant to Ireland 15 years ago.

Prof Vandenberghe emphasizes that the transplant and knock-on effects will be tough – “tougher than you think”.  Bloodwise explain the process here.

I have been told that I “will never run again”.

I am therefore so encouraged that BT people across the UK have signed up for this Autumn’s running / fund-raising project in support of Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI’s research into blood cancers.  Thanks to Matt Strudwick for creating the BT MyDonate page.

If you remember nothing else from this time together, remember this -

Thank You!

The benefits of regular exercise are many - the NHS quantifies 10 benefits here.  Through my running in recent years, I have found release from stress, enjoyment of fresh air, a more positive mood with endorphins flowing, and times of both restorative solitude and welcome company.  I recommend regular exercise to everyone.

While heeding medical counsel, I’m still hopeful that, in 12-18 months, I will do a 5K parkrun again, at whatever speed!  Last week, keeping this aim in view, I walked the three circuits of Belfast Victoria Park’s 5K parkrun – my longest distance in six months.

I intend to be back at parkrun next year.

What’s Next?
BT has been very supportive and encouraging about welcoming me back to work next year.  Thank you, especially Phil Lockett, for your support through this unprecedented level of uncertainty in my life.

In his paper “After the Treatment Finishes – Then What?” (a compelling 5* read for any patient, carer, medical or HR professional) Peter Harvey says

“Regaining and rebuilding your strength - both physical and emotional - is a task that cannot be emphasized enough. That is your foundation.”

I have decided, after 30 years with BT, to retire and focus on getting through the transplant and then working on rebuilding the strength needed for the next phase of life.

Thoughts on Leaving BT
Career is a really significant part of our lives as we work through the challenge & achievement of software engineering, IT operational management and leadership to deliver innovative and reliable services for our customers.

Reflecting on thirty years, I see that the major milestones of our lives can be embedded in our work and working relationships. Three examples are

  1. 23 Sep 1984 – As an Ulster Polytechnic placement student with BT in Royston House, Belfast, Damian O'Connor said to me "Tim - you're not well - go home". The next day I was admitted to hospital with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I was in Dave King’s Services team and still recall the sustained support through that difficult year from Dave and team members including Janine Stewart, Eileen Murphy and Arthur Newell.
  2. 20 Oct 1998 – As recently promoted team leader for CSS Bill Follow-up, following the formidably effective Duncan Chambers, I started some special leave as our Social Worker picked us up from Wellington Buildings to meet our new 4 year old sons for the first time.
  3. Tue 11 Sep 2001 – some of us stood on this floor in Riverside Tower at the kitchen area’s TV watching the Twin Towers burn.

This community of people within BT has lived through all sorts of experiences together. Over thirty years, some themes stand out so, as I say ‘Goodbye’, I offer three thoughts.

Respect Each Other
One of our former local Senior Managers, Malcolm Lees, noted around the time of his own retirement that BT had dropped the sentence within our values that “we respect one another”.  Malcolm thought this was a great element to have front-and-centre of our values.

So, it’s Competition Time, with a prize of the first of the German Biscuits brought along from Skinners Bakery.

Q. In BT’s current Way We Work document, how many times does the word ‘Respect’ occur?

A. The word ‘Respect’ occurs 34 times – respect for law, human rights, regulatory limits, brand, customers, stakeholders. And also respect for other people’s dignity, equality, respect for each person’s contribution and the individual diversity of everyone we work with.

“We respect one another” today remains a core BT value.  Indeed, BT, more than any other area of my life has given opportunity after opportunity to meet, and work with, and value many diverse individuals.  It has been great to work with people from places including Belfast, Glasgow, Ipswich, London, Cardiff, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai as well as many global hardware & software vendors.

In today’s world, ‘Respect for the other’ is more precious & necessary than ever.

Promote respect.  Nurture it.  Guard it.

Be Proactive (the first of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Effective People)
Maintain Skills: We are in a technical industry and have access to a rich set of training resources.  I think we all simply have to make time to keep technically up-to-date.  Everyone, for example, should have BT's Bronze certification for the Security pathway training.

Reflect on ‘Calls’:  We spend more time than 10 years ago on conference calls and the technology has improved to make this a richer experience.  Some days, however, can be “back-to-back calls”.  It’s also important to carve out time for focused thinking around innovation, problem solving, continuous improvement. Time for self to plan / learn.  Time for 1:1 sessions.  Time for team sessions to look ahead together.

Write your Team Charter: We did this on the Integration Platform and both the output and process of getting there were worthwhile.

Manage your Boundaries

  • Social media - during chemo over the summer, I realised I couldn’t tolerate toxic inputs from USA, so I switched off Donald Trump on my Google feed.
  • Well-being - I have learnt from colleague Brian Ditty who, before he heads on one holiday, has the next one booked so he can look forward to it. Similarly, years ago, BT NI’s District Engineer George Adams said to me that a half-decent manager must be able to manage his/her own leave – a basic measure in caring for your well-being.

One classic resource – ‘Boundaries’ by Cloud & Townsend – a detailed read, coming from a faith perspective, and about to be republished to also cover social media.

Boundaries

Recommended.

Celebrate Each Day

Our world seems more volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous than I remember it 30/20/10 years ago

So, be kind to yourself ... “Treats are allowed.”

What lingers with me today most of all is the small kindnesses shown to me by colleagues along the way.

Charley Moore, Senior Manager who established this Engineering Centre, on some late Friday nights would give a lift to a then very junior colleague from Aldergrove airport to the City Centre.  Every time I drive down the M2 motorway at night time and turn the sweeping bend to overlook the lights of Belfast City, I think of Charley, his work for the Centre, and his kindness at the end of another long week.

And, now, I think of the massive support from BT people last year & this year for our running projects in support of LLNI and the 197 people we signed up as potential stem cell donors.

O-finish

Our time is up.

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about”

… so anything you can do to support a work culture where people help each other on will help with overall effectiveness.

 

Thank you to people here today, everyone on this conference call, people currently out of the office, and colleagues from former years.

Thank you to Ruth, for presence and support “when it was easy and when it was difficult” as we committed to each other in our wedding vows.

I first worked for BT in 1984, before the World Wide Web was invented in 1989. We have been, and are, involved in world-changing achievement. I wish you well in your careers and in life.

Respect each other.

Be proactive.

Celebrate each day.


‘You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.’

This blog reproduces an interview in the January 2017 edition of The Methodist Newsletter with Anne Hailes.

Anne blogs regularly on life, media & NI culture here.

When I read Anne's piece before it went to press, it was a delightful surprise to discover that Anne actually knows the man whose support triggered this #TimPageFitForLife project.


 

 

“In summer 2013, we were planning a five-year survival bar-be-cue.  

Unfortunately, one month short of this cancer-free milestone, I was more seriously ill than ever before – tumours through my body, jaundiced, unable to sleep & hallucinating.  

Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was back with a vengeance.”

Tim acknowledges that we all face challenges yet he has had more than his share.  Despite this he is an example of a man who just keeps on being positive and depending on his faith and the doctors to get through.  He has been treated for aggressive blood cancer four times since September 1984, when, as a 20-year-old BT placement student, he had a routine chest X-ray.  

“Within hours, I was in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Five months of chemotherapy and a month of radiotherapy followed.  The treatment was severe, my dad was dying at the same time and, some days, I felt the bottom had fallen out of my world.”

On one of those days he had to escape the demons in his head and he turned to John Frost, his old headmaster at Sullivan Upper School in Holywood. 

“I landed at Mr. Frost’s front door and he immediately recognised a level of distress beyond words, I just broke down, I couldn’t say anything.  He and Mrs. Frost sat me down with a cup of tea.  I thought ‘my cup runneth over’ – a cup of tea goes a long way to help!  The Frosts showed me kindness and understanding.”

Tim was getting back into the swing of life when he was dealt another blow. Two years later he was told the cancer had returned and what should have been a red-letter day turned into anything but.   

“I’d just completed computing science at the Ulster Polytechnic as it was then.   On the same day I was told the cancer is back, the job offer I’d been promised was withdrawn because of my health problems.   The world fell apart.  The most helpful person was an atheist friend who said

"You've got to look at it this way, Tim.  As one door closes another one shuts!"

I actually derived lots of laughter at that.”  

But it wasn’t over.  May 2008 brought the shock news that a large lump in his neck was due to aggressive Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.  Blood cancer treatment had progressed dramatically which meant chemotherapy could be administered as an outpatient and it killed the cancer in 12 weeks.  

However, Tim, his wife Ruth and twin sons Downey and Chris, then 19 years of age, were to be tested again.  In summer 2013, the family were planning a five-year survival bar-be-cue, when one month short of this cancer-free milestone, Tim became more seriously ill than ever with tumours throughout his body, jaundiced, hallucinating and unable to sleep. Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma was back with a vengeance.   

Family
The Page family

“I was close to death and there were groans beyond words going Heavenwards about myself and my family; there’s a comforting aspect as God can draw near and hear but there’s also the Psalmist’s spirituality of lament and Jesus saying ‘Let this cup pass from me’.  I think a big thing for me is to know that you can shout at God and cry and sometimes just whinge because we are His little children.”

It was their 'Year of Hell', in hospital for five months, with a 50/50 chance of survival, he was planning his 50th birthday party and funeral service at the same time.  

Thankfully, it was the birthday party that people ended up attending!

“Since then my motto is,

If there’s something in life to celebrate, then celebrate

because there’s enough difficult stuff going on.  A couple of months ago, I appreciated walking down the road and looking at one falling leaf as it fell to the ground.  As well as the challenges of work, paying the mortgage, there are moments of beauty all around.”   

As he regained fitness this special man turned to running.  He uses it to release stress, get fresh air, keep endorphins flowing, for company or solitude. 

“Sometimes I’m thinking about everyday life and pressures, other times it’s a time of internal reflection, zoning out at a spiritual level.  There’s a phrase that I love in the hymn Dear Lord and Father of Mankind

'The Silence of Eternity'

Something of this can happen when I’m running or on a retreat, an experience that I don’t understand but one that I treasure. 

At work a couple of days ago, a Director asked me how I was, I think he was surprised with my answer.  I told him - I’m alive, I have a family and they are well, I’m mobile, I have a sane mind, I’m doing work that matters, I look back at the running project that succeeded so I’m grateful for every day.” Having been in hospital six months, seven pumps keeping him going, being in isolation and not being able to move out of bed it might be surprising that, in September three years later, walking into work to lead the stem cell Donor Drive with Ruth, he told God he had no complaints about his journey.  

“I am thankful to be alive today; you know, you can maybe understand life looking backwards but you have to live it looking forwards, in the moment we don’t see the big picture.  I did despair at times, not surprising when your blood count and your energy is low and the doctor says it’s 50/50 so you're writing your funeral service and you feel awful; then you realise despair is OK, it’s not the final word and it doesn’t apply to your whole life.  I thought about my sons and my wife, their concern and what would they do without me being there.  When you’re a young man in your early 20s it’s rough but probably you don’t have dependents, when you do have loved ones who are dependent then that’s a different level of concern.”

During these toughest of months, Tim says he gained an acute appreciation of the precariousness and preciousness of life.  He came to see profound significance in small acts of kindness, for example the offer of midnight tea, hot toast and a chat with one of the exceptional nursing assistants.  He also had a renewed appreciation of research and was determined to do something practical to help. He knows that prayer is important but the drugs and the treatments are just as essential, as he says God is present in all things including research.

Along with this renewed sense of positivity came a sense of responsibility to build his fitness. So, he now has a personal trainer and attends the gym every week and is training to be a coaching psychologist.

“Early last year I discovered parkrun where, every Saturday morning, in 24 public parks across NI, people come along to do a timed run.  I ran my first parkrun at Victoria Park last November, finishing in 162nd place out of 162!  I found myself overwhelmed by uncontainable emotion on achieving an objective that would have seemed unimaginable when I was ill.  82-year-old Gerry Ward was the sole remaining volunteer waiting for this straggler.  Looking back, I now see that his presence, encouragement and positive words were the key link in the chain that led to a seven month ‘#TimPageFitForLife’ running project.”

Gerry and Tim
Tim with Gerry Ward, Victoria parkrun Volunteer

Gerry Ward remembers that day too.  “We were just clearing up the finish area after the run and I became aware of this chap sitting and to all appearances crying. I toddled over to ask if he was ok thinking he might have fallen during the run but in the course of conversation I found out that the tears originated from his satisfaction of completing the run. He indicated that during his periods of therapy his main ambition, when fit enough, was to undertake the 5k run.  You talk about uncontainable – well, I certainly felt similar after my chat with him and to some extent felt a bit inferior.   I’m fortunate in so many ways to be an integral part of the core volunteer group of our Saturday run, made all the more special by people like Tim who inspires all around him.”

Within months the objectives of this project were in place.  To run all the Northern Ireland parkruns in aid of Lymphoma and Leukaemia NI at Queen’s University.  He has raised £15,253 for LLNI and signed up 197 prospective stem cell donors with charity DKMS.  He’s proud that lives will be saved in years ahead when someone receives a stem cell donation.  

 

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2016-12-23/9160afce-182b-4458-b77f-db27de357d19.png
BT colleagues at Tim's final run, 24-Sep-2016, 32 years to the day after he first went into hospital

Tim himself has increased his fitness getting through all the runs, bringing down his time from 40 minutes to under 35 minute and, he laughs, even when running in the rain the sense of achievement is great.

But it’s not only fundraising, spreading the word about blood cancer and treatment is vitally important to this brave man.  He has published six video interviews about blood cancer treatment, research and the important role of fitness in staying well: “And thank God I am fitter and stronger than I’ve ever been.” 

He’s surprised and thankful for the sheer goodwill of so many people in funding his project and giving their support.  Indeed, Tim is clear that ‘through the years, the support received along the journey from Ruth, family, friends, colleagues, professionals and so many others has helped get me through.’

“On the way back from Cookstown parkrun, I had a conversation with a friend David Quinney Mee.  His daughter, Lucia, had just been on Radio Ulster promoting organ donation. Lucia, age 17, has had three liver transplants, and great success at the UK Transplant Games.  David said to me:

‘You can count the number of seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the number of apples in a seed.’

In other words, in the great scheme of things, never discount the power of the small to inspire, to sustain and to give hope, whether it’s planting a tree, sharing five loaves and two fishes or encouraging someone struggling in their own race through your words, your support and your presence.”

More information at

www.timpagefitforlife.com
www.leukaemiaandlymphomani.org 


First published in Methodist Newsletter, January 2017 edition


BT Belfast Engineering Centre - presentation to Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI

A milestone today for the #TimPageFitForLife project...

BT colleagues presented the amount raised through 2016 - £3800 - to the LLNI team's Professor Ken Mills, Joanne Badger and LLNI's recently announced new Chairman Richard Buchanan.

BT amount

Then, the BFSEC organising committee kindly held a raffle this evening, raising a further £793 for LLNI - a total of £4,593 from BT colleagues.

This makes a grand total to date (including RQIA support, Linda Bell's coffee morning and the overall 310 donations) of £14,593.

As part of the BFSEC review of the year, BT's Cathal O'Neill prepared a montage of the 22 runs, with a great sound track.  

Enjoy!

 


A Good Day to Save a Life - DKMS Donor Drive

100 prospective stem cell donors.

From the start, this was a #TimPageFitForLife life-saving project objective.  We made solid progress in March, with 62 people registering as potential donors with DKMS UK via sign-up sessions, first, at the BT Belfast BFSEC Social Committee Bake Sale and, then second, at Victoria parkrun.

Donor registration sessions take some organisation and, although our intention was to arrange sessions at several other parkrun venues, a combination of injury, busy-ness and venue logistics meant we arrived in August still below that target at 62 people signed up.

Sometimes, I take a £10 web-flyer fare on the Enterprise train down to Dublin as a reflective away-day and, so it was, sitting on the Dun Laoghaire pier in the sun it hit me like a brick

“Organise a Donor Drive for the whole of BT Riverside Tower, all 12 floors”

Apparently, for every 20 people signed up, it is likely that, over the next 10 years, someone will be able to have a potentially life-saving transplant.  Ruth and I were hopeful we could sign up another 38 people to reach our target of 100, bringing hope to some people who would one day find themselves in medical dire straits.

Patrick Ryan of DKMS UK was again helpful and sent a full set of supplies for our third Donor Drive – posters, flyer leaflets, registration sheets and the essential cheek swab kits used to take tissue samples for tissue matching in the lab.

We set a date for Tue 13-Sep, booked the Customer Events area for the day and emailed everyone in Riverside Tower details of the event a few days in advance.

First step was to recruit 12 volunteers – BT people and also Patricia McAuley & Page McLaughlin.

DD-A-vol1

Volunteers receive half an hour’s training to become familiar with the registration process.  The day before the Drive, Ruth helped with the training, during which we took the opportunity to sign up several people for real to illustrate the process.

D-Day arrived.  We were well prepared, good-to-go, but had no idea of the level of interest or number of sign-ups we might achieve.

DD-A-vol2

When the registration process completes, people’s details go on a database and they receive a DKMS stem cell donor card.  Pauline Clark, who dropped by as we were starting, could proudly show her card from a previous Donor Drive.

DD-B-Aim

As ‘Front-of-House’ guy, I manned an Info Desk in Riverside Tower Reception, explaining what we were doing and inviting people to find out more.

DD-D-Invite

We ran from 10.00 – 15.00.  At times, our waiting area was needed when all of our eight sign-up stations were in use.

DD-E-Waiting

We had a steady stream of people registering through the day – completing the paperwork…

DD-F-paperwork

… and then doing the cheek swabs.

DD-G-swabs

When 3pm arrived, we had well-exceeded the 38 registration required to get to 100.

We were delighted that 135 people signed up on the day, many of whom were in the middle of busy work days, and took time out of their break to understand the process and sign up.

IMG_20160913_122348

Ruth and I would like to thank the Donor Drive volunteers, everyone who took time to find out more, everyone who signed up, the BT Riverside Reception & Security teams that helped with logistics and, especially, the DKMS UK team for their life-saving work.

Information on DKMS UK is here.

If you would like to donate to DKMS, their MyDonate site is here.  Each registration costs £40 – good value for money.


#TimPageFitForLife Interview I, Dr. Mary Drake - An Overview of Blood Cancers

In this, the first #TimPageFitForLife video interview, I interview Dr. Mary Drake, Consultant Haematologist at Belfast City Hospital.

Dr. Drake explains the main types of blood cancer - leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma - and describes progress in treatment.

Dr. Drake speaks of the sense of community in Northern Ireland, and how local charities Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI & Friends of the Cancer Centre make a difference to her working life every day.

If you would like to donate to LLNI, the BTmydonate site is here

In the next interview, Laura Croan, Clinical Nurse Specialist for Lymphoma, explains the role of fitness for patients.


Larne - 10 Sep - 21 of 22

With only Stormont to go, Larne parkun may prove to be the day with the bluest sky - a glorious drive up from Holywood, and a great day for the first Larne 10k event.  I will aim to do this next year.

Larne-AB

Chris McGonagle gets the prize for furthest-travelled supporter.  Chris, formerly a BT colleague, has been encouraging me from Austin USA for months.  Back home in Banbridge for a few days, Chris drove to Larne to run his first parkrun.  I really appreciated Chris' presence - it was good to swap notes on running, IT, recovery from injury and resilience.  We were pleased to meet up with Phil McIlwrath and Rosy Ryan so soon after Rosy's Lagan10k run last week for Pancreatic Cancer UK.  And great to see regular co-runner Heather Chestnutt again.

Larne-D

Dom Dorris, Run Director, gave a warm welcome to everyone, introducing Larne as one of the tougher parkruns.  I like quotes, and, talking about the hills at Carnfunnock Park, something Dom said rang true:

"The hills are your friend."

 ~ Dom Dorris

For me, this relates to another philosopher's quote which can be true.  Sometimes.

Larne-G

The run was certainly tough, at 44:01 one of my slowest.  I put this down to the repeated circuits up the hills... however, after the race, Dom explained that the heat of the day is not necessarily the runner's friend, and I can see this is true.  Photos from the day show a lot of perspiration on a lot of people!  Great to have BT colleagues Mark Crothers, Michael Fulton, John Kelly and Laurence O'Hagan running alongside. 

Larne-P

And so, at last, I got to meet Gillian Craig, regular runner at Larne parkrun.  Gillian has an enviable PB of 31:27, and her story, including aspects of living with cerebral palsy, was recently on the parkrun weekly newsletter.  Thanks to Gillian for encouragement and support.

"Because of parkrun, and in particular the volunteers at Larne parkrun, I don’t just watch sport from the sidelines anymore. I take part. And I don’t just cheer. I get cheered on. From my family and from the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank the parkrun community enough for your support and encouragement."

~ Gillian Craig

Larne-V

Many Larne volunteers had to leave on time for the Larne 10k, but Ruth was still able to secure a very upbeat photo!

Larne-W

After tea and biscuits in the Sea Cadets' Hall, we drove up the hill to the Parklands Cafe for coffee with Rosy & Phil and David & Fiona Robinson.  On a day as good as this, this was a great place to enjoy the view.

Larne-Y

Larne photo album is here.

And now, one single parkrun remaining - Stormont on 24 September, the 32nd year to the day that, as BT Industrial Placement student, I went into Ward 22, Belfast Royal Victoria Hospital very ill with Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

Before then, it's a full week for #TimPageFitForLife:

Tuesday, in BT Riverside, there's a DKMS stem cell Donor Drive, hoping to reach our target of 100 prospective donors

On Friday, we attend the launch of LLNI's #ImStill campaign

And - keep an eye open for a series of six video interviews with people from the domains of medicine, fitness training and LLNI's research.

Come along to Stormont parkrunon the 24th if you can.

"The hills are your friend."

Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £11,846

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £600

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 27

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%

20

3 Sep

Ecos

38.88%

21

10 Sep

Larne

34.04%


Derry City - 27 Aug - 19 of 22

We headed up to Derry on the Friday, staying in the friendly White Horse Hotel.  It was a beautiful evening, so before a good meal in Fitzroys we walked the course.

Derry-X5

On Saturday, we arrived at the busy starting point at 9, with time for some more photos as well as warm-up.

Derry-C

Run Director Gerard Harkin gave everyone a warm welcome, emphasising the need to give way to the (many) pedestrians, cyclists and other runners that were about.

Derry-D

Colleagues Riona and Nate from BT accompanied me, and was also good to see Riona's family and friends.

Derry-K

Before the run, I met Fidelma Hodgkinson.  Fidelma had an allogenic stem cell transplant in 2002 - her sister was donor.  It was helpful for Ruth and me to hear Fidelma say, 14 years post-transplant,

"I haven't looked back"

Swapping notes with someone who has journeyed further down the road can be an encouragement.

Derry City was a beautiful run.  At half-way, you run around a statue (which was wearing a parkrun jersey!) and head back the way you came.  Many runners on the return leg encouraged people still making their way to the half-way point.  One advantage of the Derry course is the clear visibility of the whole course - you know how much further you still have to go.  

Kerrie McIlmoyle, who I'd met at Run #8/22 at Limavady, was first woman finisher at Derry.  Kerrie came back to run the final straight with me.  With Kerrie's positivity, I went for a few final speed bursts.  So, thanks to Kerrie for helping me achieve a new PB, by 3 seconds!, of 35:10.

Afterwards, Fidelma could see I needed to recover and she gave me her water bottle. Seems a small gesture perhaps.  However, in the moment, it meant a lot.  You never know when a simple act of insightful kindness will 'land' powerfully with someone.

Derry-N

Before leaving we spoke again with Run Director Gerard.  Looking at the Peace Bridge and the shore across the River, he spoke of the variety of people who meet up at parkrun.  I left Derry mulling Gerard's words...

"We bridge lots of divides."

DerryT

Derry City photo album is here - photos from Saturday, and also some from the Friday evening.

Now, we're into the Final Three - Ecos (Ballymena), Larne and finally Stormont 24-September.

Best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma NI: £11,499

Raised for DKMS (formerly Delete Blood Cancer): £600

People registered with DKMS as prospective donors: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 25

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%

18

20 Aug

Falls

37.88%

19

27 Aug

Derry City

42.61%


Colin Glen - 13 August - 17 of 22

 

I had been anticipating Colin Glen as one of the more hilly courses on my tour of NI's parkruns.  With injury behind me, my physio recommended a conservative approach to running - "don't over-extend your stride" - both up- and down-hill.

Colin Glen will always be a memorable run - not due to its difficulty - but because I was fortunate to have two experienced runners at my side on this steepest run of my life to date.  Linda Harley Gillespie had offered to run with me, keeping time.  Linda is the first woman to have completed every local parkrun; she also has a great blog here.  I was also permitted to accompany Cracker in his traditional photo call! ...

Colin-Glen-B

Also, "parkrun Jim" offered to run alongside us. Jim Clinton was the first person in Ireland to complete 250 parkruns; our run together was his 275th.  Jim now has #500 in his sights. 

Colin-Glen-I

The initial 2km climb was not as tough as I had feared.  I was guided well.  The beauty at the top, running around the Lake twice with the Belfast Hills looming down on us, means that Ruth and I will be back to Colin Glen for a walk soon.

Colin-Glen-N

The Volunteer team was very friendly, with a warm welcome from Jim Bradley and Team to everyone including a group of "Steps To Health" graduates.  A number of people kindly donated to LLNI - with £111 transfer recorded here.

Colin-Glen-W

Today's album is here.

We drove home to join friends Linda & Derek Bell who were having a coffee morning in support of LLNI.  This was very well supported - photos & amount raised are on the blog and Facebook.

Next week, we're into the 'Final Five' ...

  • Falls
  • Derry
  • Ecos
  • Larne
       then  a contingency week, before...
  • Stormont, final run, on 24 Sep

Thanks to everyone for the support which has been, and continues to be, powerful.

Best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma: £11,424

Raised for Delete Blood Cancer: £600

People registered with Delete Blood Cancer: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 25

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%

17

13 Aug

Colin Glen

35.93%


MUSA Cookstown - 6 August - 16 of 22

Beacons of Hope

A special day today at Cookstown, the 16th #TimPageFitForLife parkrun; Ruth and I encountered some very special people today.

Ailis Corey has faced treatment for Hodgkin's Lymphoma.  This included an 'allogenic' stem cell transplant.  In December 2013, I had an autologous transplant - my own stem cells - whereas allogenic is a tougher and riskier procedure, where you receive a donor's stem cells.

Happily, Ailis' sister Brenda was a match and the transplant has been a success.  So much of a success that Ailis has just returned from the British Transplant Games with a Silver in the 3k Walk and Bronze in the 10k Road Race Cycle.

Cookstown_G

Ailis, family and friends have travelled a tough road at times. Part of the battle was to campaign for funding within NI of the drug Brentuximab. More details are at Ailis' Support Fund Facebook page which includes a photo montage of Liverpool successes.

The word 'Inspiring' simply doesn't do justice to the resilience & spirit lived out by Ailis and family & friends.

An audio interview with Ailis by journalist Gillian McDade is here

Arriving at MUSA, we met Julie Kelly.  Tragically, Julie's sister Lynne died of cancer.  Julie and some running friends have established Seapark Charity Runners to support two charities - Macmillan and Brainwaves NI.    

Julie explained that, as well as running her way around all Northern Ireland parkruns, she has also just completed 10 x 10k runs.  It was good to swap notes with Julie about NI's parkruns - we were both impressed by the beauty of the Enniskillen course.  Again today, here was human resilience and an outward-looking generative response to aftermath of a horrible disease.

Cookstown_E

Julie and team's JustGiving page is here.

Run Director Irwin Spiers gave a very warm welcome today, inviting me to say a few words to the runners and volunteers.  Er, next time, I'll need to remember to click the mega-phone trigger button - but I'm learning and won't make that mistake again.

The regular physio and rehab exercises after recent injury are doing the job of keeping my running condition ok.  I'm grateful for the encouragement of colleagues John Purvis, Cathal O'Neill and Phil Lockett  - the BT posse - who ran with me today.  With Cathal timing, I got a 30 second walk-break every four minutes and still came in under 40 minutes... Good to be getting back on form.  

Cookstown_D

We're now into a #TimPageFitForLife pattern of asking parkrun Volunteers to join in a group photo before/after the race, to recognise the fact that 

"No volunteers... No parkrun!"

Cookstown_S

Thanks to the MUSA Cookstown team for the warm welcome today. 

We got in the car and headed home to Holywood, listening to Radio Ulster.  

On the same day that we met Ailis and heard about her success at the Transplant Games, serendipity struck.

We were delighted to hear Lucia Quinney Mee speaking.  The Quinney Mees are family friends and they, also, have faced a challenging road at times. Lucia, who has endured and come through three liver transplants, was also at the Transplant Games.  Lucia won seven medals!   

Lucia's interview is on BBC iPlayer until 3-Sep, here, and her 6 minute story is worth listening to.

Lucia has also recently created a blog, live-loudly-donate-proudly.org - I can recommend this excellent post.

Live-Loudly-Donate-Proudly

What a day... running performance regained, another friendly parkrun community, stories of resilience & support through adversity  and a timely reminder of the vital benefit of transplants - a spur to renew our #TimPageFitForLife effort to give people an opportunity to sign up as stem cell donors.

Thank you for support.

Today's album is here and next week I'll be at Colin Glen.

Best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma: £10,151

Raised for Delete Blood Cancer: £500

People registered with Delete Blood Cancer: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 25

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%

16

6 Aug

MUSA Cookstown

39.48%


Armagh - 30 July - 15 of 22

Well, what a week that was.

An exciting week in BT work, supporting the launch of BT Sport On EE:

Mid-week, I resumed running, thanks to benefits of an ongoing physio programme

Then, on Thursday, NI's Regulation & Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) Belfast Marathon runners and Office team handed over £621 to LLNI.

TimPageFitForLife-RQIA

#TimPageFitForLife exceeded double the £5000 target for LLNI donations, with £10028 raised to date for vital research, in the same week that LLNI's Joanne Badger handed me the recent NI Institute of Fundraising nomination. 

TimPageFitForLife-BWFVY

I completed the Armagh run yesterday, with great support from BT colleagues and friends.

Armagh is a particularly beautiful course - a mix of hilly parkland and woodland.

There was a sense of close local community amongst the runners - I guess the 'further out' parkruns, not close to many other runs, tend to have a more constant attendance.

Thanks to Run Director Mark Lundy for the warm welcome.

Armagh-D

It was great to have work colleagues Liz Leckey and Brenda Hilley along on their first parkrun.
I really appreciated BT colleague & runner Gavin McBride's pace-setting.  We alternated between 3 minutes running and 30 seconds walk.  Perhaps it was due to Gavin's guidance that I headed home with no muscle pain and hopeful for a straight run ahead through the remaining 7 venues.

Armagh photo album is here, thanks to Sarah Irwin for the amazing cake!

Armagh-Q

Next week, we're at Cookstown

Through August & September, as well as running and fund-raising, we'll be

  1. Working with DKMS to drive up the number of prospective stem cell donors, and,
  2. Producing video interviews about the role of fitness, medical care and research in preventing and treating blood cancers

As the final two months of our #TimPageFitForLife project start tomorrow... ideas, offers of support & publicity, donations and questions for the video interviews are all very welcome.

Best wishes,
Tim

Project Objectives

Raised for Leukaemia & Lymphoma: £10,028

Raised for Delete Blood Cancer: £500

People registered with Delete Blood Cancer: 62

People who have signed up with parkrun: 23

Tim's Running Progress

#

Date

Course

Age Grade

1

19 Mar

Belfast Victoria

41.2%

2

26 Mar

Belfast Waterworks

40.4%

3

16 Apr

Bangor Ward Park

35.53%

4

23 Apr

Portrush

37.12%

5

7 May

Queens

39.26%

6

14 May

Enniskillen

38.13%

7

21 May

Comber

39.50%

8

28 May

Limavady

41.97%

9

4 June

Valley

38.37%

10

11 June

Wallace

39.83%

11

18 June

Ormeau

42.55%

12

25 June

Antrim

39.80%

13

2 July

Carrickfergus

35.21%

14

9 July

Citypark Craigavon

34.48%

15

30 July

Armagh

37.12%