Isn’t it strange how people come into your life?
Some might enter it with a bang – your eyes meet and you feel irresistibly drawn together, fireworks go off and a fanfare plays. Others just kinda sidle in there. You like that? Sidle. It’s a verb and means to edge along furtively. They sneak up on you and then they’re there and you kinda wonder where they came from.
Yet others might be forced into your life by your environment, whether that be sharing a home, a workplace or some team sport setting. However they get there, there will be some people who leave your life at some point and some who stick around. There will be the ones you can’t wait to get away from and then there are the friends.
Friends. A noun meaning a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard. Now I’m not going to go into the whys and wherefores of who we feel affection for, mainly because I don’t know anything about why one person in particular stands out to us or why we feel affection towards them. No, I’m going to talk about some special friends of mine and how I came to meet them. This is purely about how strange, how random and how wonderful the world can be.
A couple of years back I was diagnosed with Cancer for the second time in my life. This is not a particularly positive thing to happen in a persons life and of course was a shock. But fast forward a bit, treatment was successful (eventually) and I start getting back to “normal” life. Here’s where the randomness starts.
My partner had signed up to Twitter and so, not really having paid it much attention before, I signed up too. Not long after and slowly getting the hang of it, I came across a chap named Pan Aveyard who forms one half of 2 Yards Media and who holds a free weekly drop-in session on a Wednesday in Bradford. I popped along one Wednesday, mainly to meet him after having tweeted with him a few times and we had a chat during which I mentioned about the recent Cancer and recovery and he told me about a lady who works for Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale which, not really being in the area, I’d never heard of.
This lady was Sarah Firth and again I started tweeting with her before heading one day, armed with Doughnuts, to the Cancer Support centre where we met for the first time and where Sarah very proudly showed me around a little of the centre and explained the work of the staff there. The centre provides a lot of much needed real world support to Cancer patients and their families, from providing transport to and from appointments, to welfare rights advice and even massage and aromatherapy sessions. Sarah’s dedication to her work and belief in the work of the centre shone through by the bucketload and I explained how I wished I’d known about them before.
During our conversation Sarah mentioned a young lady she had become friends with through her work named Liz Ellis who had survived Hodgkins Lymphoma and had blogged her way through the whole treatment journey. Reading her blog revealed a young lady who was strong and incredibly positive whilst still being honest about feeling vulnerable and, well, human really. I loved reading her posts and wanted to get in touch but was a bit unsure as she had never heard of me and it might have seemed a bit weird some stranger making contact. But again we started tweeting and eventually met and became friends. Once Liz’s treatment journey was over she made a clean break and started a new blog about getting back to normal life and her hopes (and some fears) for the future.
Some time later I ended up spending 2 days a week helping out in the fundraising office at Cancer Support Bradford and Airedale and talking to Sarah (who by this time knew of my involvement with Disabled Motoring UK) when she mentioned a chap named Mark Winterbourne who was having problems with his Motability car. I offered to help out if I could and contacted Mark through Facebook. Again I was a bit unsure as to whether I should or not as he had no idea who I was and our only link was our mutual friend Sarah. Nevertheless we agreed to meet at a Costa Coffee and see what, if anything, could be done.
I spent about 2 hours with Mark that day, going through paperwork and made a couple of phone calls. While nothing much was achieved that day it appeared that Mark was very grateful for my having tried and he said he felt more positive than he had done. Over time and through Twitter and Facebook I found out about Marks photography, his eye for a stunning image and his knowledge of things like aperture settings and shutter speeds, which is impressive.
So when I took part in Cancer Support’s sponsored zip slide from the Tyne Bridge and Mark offered to photograph the day, we knew he’d get some stunning photos and he certainly did! The photos can be seen here. After trying to sort out the Motability problem for Mark I received an email from his wife Elaine and this was followed up not long after by a surprise visit from them both to the Cancer centre, where I got a message from reception telling me there was a visitor for me and was puzzled as no-one really knew I was there. Coming into the main reception room I was surprised and delighted to see Mark and Elaine, we had a coffee and a laugh and it was lovely. More recently Elaine has been writing her own blog about her Sister Anne.
Now these lovely people, all with their own incredible stories, are firm friends and I am very proud to be able to call them that. We have recently formed a group named the CostaPosse and meet up from time to time at Costa Coffee in Greengates, Bradford. What I find most remarkable is that although we are linked mainly through Cancer and disability, when we get together those subjects are rarely mentioned and we always, ALWAYS have a laugh, sometimes so much it hurts.
So, as I said at the beginning, isn’t it strange how people come into your life?