Just over three years ago, I was diagnosed with squamous cell oesophageal cancer and after reading too many survival rate statistics, realised that life might be cut short.
After my first appointment at the Churchill Hospital in Oxford, where options for my treatment were considered, it was agreed that I should have two cycles of chemotherapy before major surgery (Ivor Lewis oesophagectomy).
It was during my visit to the hospital that I was given the OOSO booklet and after reading through it, I decided to contact Jackie to discuss my prognosis and the forthcoming chemo.
It was then that my hopes were raised, because not only was Jackie a then eight-year survivor herself, but she had the inspiration to give me a positive outlook on what had previously been a frightening prospect.
So here I am, three years since my endoscopy proved my worst fears, and nearly twoand a half years after recovery from what was certainly major surgery.
I cannot deny that it did change my life. I lost weight, I had digestion problems, sleeping at night was not easy, indeed, many of those things that all of us recovering from this surgery have experienced.
The OOSO quarterly meetings proved that I was not alone and could share concerns whether it was about diet, life after surgery or new treatments. The chosen speakers are always relevant and everyone can ask questions.
It was therefore not difficult to decide, that after my recovery I would continue in my role as a county councillor, after all, I had been elected to serve my community of Grove and Wantage since 1997, and had been a member of the County Council since 2001.
I was given six months leave after my operation but was determined to finish my four-year term of office last year in the role of Vice Chairman.
When the elections came round in May 2017, I was positive that life would go on. If everything went to plan, I could be the next Chairman of the Council and face all the challenges that came with it.
It is usual to choose charities to support when one is elected Chairman, and so OOSO was right at the top of my list when I took on this role.
My Annual Charity dinner held last year on 9th December raised over £1,400 for this cause.
I was absolutely delighted that Rob Dennis, from the Oxford Guild of Chefs, who cooked our wonderful barbeque last year, agreed to do us the honour of catering for my dinner, and he too, was keen that this would raise funds for this very worthy charity. His wife, Ann of Ann’s Munchies fame was also involved with the event.
The photos are of the dinner in the lovely setting of County Hall in New Road, Oxford and I am so pleased that so much was raised, thanks to all the generous donations for the charity auction from local businesses and supporters around Oxfordshire which helped all of us who have been touched by this cancer either personally or as carers of our loved ones.