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Think bigger, be bolder, fight harder

Grandparents and children sharing tips and stories

From Raoul Surcouf

Never stop dreaming!

I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease just before my 17th birthday. I underwent 12 months of chemo and 6 of radiotherapy.

I can remember being asked if I wanted my name put in a hat at the hospital for a draw to decide which patient would be given a new "hybrid" chemo. Well, I won.

I'll never know if it was any better or any worse than the "standard" treatment. It made me vomit every time I was administered the dose and then subsequently through association I was sick every time I saw a needle.

But St. Bart’s hospital did a marvellous job. All through the treatment I remained totally focused. This disease was getting in the way of my life and I wanted to get on with living. I hatched plans for the future, constantly dreaming up ideas and seeking inspiration from those I admired.

At that point I had practiced Judo for 7 years and was determined to continue after cancer. I set my mind on gaining my black belt while still a teenager. This I managed by battling throughout the senior grades and winning my belt in London before my 20th birthday. I went on to train with the British Team for a year and had competition success at national level and abroad for a further 5 years.

Each goal I set myself in the cancer years I have realised. I am extremely fortunate, 20 years on, to be on the verge of realising one of my biggest dreams. With the help of Jim Mc Neil and his "Ice warrior expeditions" I will be setting off with 20 others to the Geomagnetic North Pole. As a team we hope to break several Polar world records and achieve world firsts.

Jim will be heading solo on an epic journey to the Magnetic Pole, Geographic pole and Arctic pole. Jim Mc Neil flies the flag for Cancer Research UK, and is a hugely experienced polar expeditioner and a true inspiration. Details of the expedition can be found on www.ice-warrior.com.

I believe if you sit still life catches up with you. If you have a tumour inside you it's battling to survive just as you are. You just have to think bigger, be bolder and fight harder.

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Updated: 28 September 2009