My name is Maddie George. I am 23. I live in North London. I like to spend my Saturdays exploring, laughing, and eating cake. I like the colour purple, I like The Beatles. I like cookery shows, and harbour an unhealthy obsession with 24 / Jack Bauer. I clean too much, I recycle and boss my boyfriend around more than he would like. My spelling is rubbish. I am normal.
On 22nd January 2009, less than 24 hours after finding a lump in my neck, I was diagnosed with Stage 2a Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of Cancer that affects the Lymph nodes (the glands in your neck, groin and armpits).
In a split second, my life was turned upside down, destined never to be the same again. I am a positive person but the thought of having and battling cancer was a massive shock to the system and more than I thought I could handle.
What does this mean? How will this affect me? Will I see my next birthday? How bad is it? Why do I not look sick? These questions muddled through my head one after the other. While Cancer is very rare, I couldn’t help but ask ‘Why me?’.
However, straight away, wonderful things started to happen and I couldn’t help but feel that actually, I am a very blessed, lucky girl. In the early days of my diagnosis some truly great friends and family gave me so much love and support, that the bad thoughts slipped away.
My friend Lucy rushed to my bed side and took on the role as my PA. My friend Mary turned up at the hospital unannounced to be with me. My brother sat by my bed, ready to provide whatever I needed. My Mum and Boyfriend dropped everything and raced down the A1 to get to me. My fellow Mashers in the office made a card with Jack Bauer on it. My housemates packed up some of my belongings and hand delivered them to me. And then there were the flowers, the gorgeous flowers that arrived from so many supportive faces.
The night I came home from hospital we had a mini party with some of my friends and family. All I wanted to eat was duck, so we got duck. All I wanted to drink was wine (unsurprisingly!), so we got wine. I started to think maybe if I was going to start getting my own way all the time, maybe this wouldn’t be so bad (!). As I looked around the living room, I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of happiness to see all the faces of wonderful people that were rallying round me.
From that moment on, I was determined to stay firmly on the bright side of life and fight for the silver lining at the bottom of all of this.
At the same time, my housemate Holly went to a Craft afternoon and made a sock monkey. When she got home, Holly gave me her monkey and it was love at first sight. The monkey just made me really, really, really laugh – it was so cute! It put such a huge smile on my face and made me so happy that I took it everywhere with me, everywhere. It was my good luck charm, my mascot, my friend. From then on, it was me and the monkey against Cancer together.
I found out I would have to have chemotherapy treatment which involves 6 hours in the hospital so toxic drugs can be fed into me and attack the cancer. 6 hours? How boring! Holly suggested that I start making sock monkeys while I was going through treatment to keep me occupied and keep me occupied. When Doctors told me that I would need 4 months of chemo, we realised that not only would I lose my hair, but that a lot of monkeys could be made!
The NHS kindly offer one free wig for all cancer patients but they made me look a bit like a shop mannequin (!) and were not very nice. I discovered that a beautiful looking wig could cost anywhere from £500 – £3000, a lot more than I could afford. And then it dawned on us. Everyone we’d shown had loved the sock monkeys and wanted one of their own. We could sell the monkeys to help raise money for the wig AND raise money for the Lymphoma Association AND spread the joy of the monkeys!
And so it was…Monkeys for Maddie was born…and I haven’t looked back.
The message behind the monkeys is that behind every dark cloud, there is a silver lining.
I’ll be keeping you updated on my progress through the Mash blog but in the meantime, please do visit us at http://www.monkeysformaddie.com/ to order your own sock monkey. We also NEED MORE SOCKS to monkey up so please post them to me at the address given or if you just want to say hello then please do at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The more colourful the sock, the more personality your sock monkey has!