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Barry Fulcher avatar
Barry Fulcher

The Big Match - British Tennis Vs The Big C!

A Davis Cup Doubles Fest, Exo & Charity Auction for Cancer Research UK because it matters & Sussex Cancer Fund for their care

24 %
£4,915.59
raised of £20,000 target
by 74 supporters
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Cancer Research UK

We pioneer life-saving cancer research to help beat cancer sooner

Charity Registration No. in England and Wales 1089464, Scotland SC041666

Story

I Am One.
I am one in every two who will suffer from cancer in their lifetime!
I am one of many who has toiled and suffered,
I am one of many who has lived in fear,
I am one of many.
I am one who is humbled,
I am one of the lucky,
I am one who survived.
This is for the Many.

Every two minutes, someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer.
In the last decade, cancer incidence has risen by 7%.

Thanks for taking the time to visit the page. The Charity Tennis event & Auction planned for this summer in Brighton will mark the ten year anniversary of my own brush with The Big C! It was undoubtedly a dark time for me personally, however, I consider myself fortunate. For me, there was a light at the end of the tunnel, a way out. For far too many, there isn't. 

The people I encountered - both carers and fellow sufferers brought me strength. Seeing how people that live with this illness and face up to it with such dignity and bravery humbled me then, and still humbles me now. This page and the associated events are a small gesture on my part; a nod of the head to a personal milestone, but primarily to give something back to the amazing Nurses, Doctors, Volunteers, the NHS, the Sussex Cancer Fund and support staff and the courageous sufferers and their loved ones who battle this illness every day.

This page will host all updates and announcements relating to The Davis Cup Doubles Fest on August 1st 2018, the fabulous auction we have planned and details of how to get involved in the cause. The fundraising events are all centred around Tennis. I am a lifer; a competitive junior tennis player, a former low level ATP pro, a coach of many years and a true lover of the game. If you feel like you can add to this event in any way at all, please do not hesitate to get in contact with me. 

Please click on the DONATE button and make a contribution - with your help, these charities really can make a difference in people's lives. Please also SHARE on any platforms you have - this is a great way to spread the net far and wide.

If you are interested to read more about my story, please read on...

I've learned over the years, that everyone has a 'cancer story', this is mine...

This day ten years ago, the 6th June 2008 - 4 weeks after getting married to my partner of 6 years, Suzie, my life was abruptly plunged into turmoil. A precautionary check up which led to an urgent radical orchidectomy procedure to remove a tumour within 72 hours. The surgery coincided with my 28th birthday.

What followed will ring true for any cancer sufferer; waiting, blood tests, MRIs. CT scans, fear, unknown, emotional rollercoasters, more scans, uncertainty, more tests and constant thoughts of one's own mortality. Follow-up appointments brought more bad news, as first the tumour had been found to be malignant, and secondly, the cancer had begun to spread to my ingrinal cavity. 

After consultation with my oncologist, I was put on a course of chemotherapy which started in July - the prognosis of which was pretty good. To add to my woes, I woke up from my surgery with a paralysed shoulder. I was told I would never be able to play tennis again. I struggled to lift my arm at all, and the pain was acute, although at the time, this was the least of my worries. 

Those three months and the following recovery period were physically and emotionally difficult. I was unable to work and was bed ridden for much of the time. In the midst of my treatment, I was faced with the task of delivering a best mans speech at my brothers wedding in August. It proved too much - with me and much of the room breaking down in tears at the sight of this skinny, depleted, balding, fatigued version of Barry trying to deliver a speech. 

Thinking of how friends and family rallied around me at that time brings a tear to my eye to this day. They were, and are all still, amazing. My wife, particularly, truly amazing! There is the cancer sufferer, but there are also the loved ones who are massively impacted by this illness too. Their experiences and woes can often be overlooked.  

Whilst I went through some dark and challenging times, (watching my body which I so relied upon for my childhood and adult sporting life, disintegrate before my eyes, as the cocktail of chemotherapy, anti-sickness drugs and steroids took effect), I soon grew humbled. What I went through was the tip of the iceberg compared to what others have to endure. During one of my 4-day stints hooked up to an IV machine, I shared a room with a man named Simon (surname unknown) for 48 hrs in August 2008. Simon was terminal, unable to move having broken his neck, unable to eat due to the cancer having riddled his throat, and wholly reliant on his wife and NHS staff for his every basic human need. We chatted for hours, day and night, about everything from tennis to his love of rugby (particularly Harlequins), to the meaning of life, death and everything in between. I loved Simon's zest for life and his positive energy, despite knowing he was soon going to die. His way of communicating with everyone was jovial, appreciative and loving, despite being in a world of pain and suffering in every waking moment. We talked about his bucket list, an item on which was a trip to see England play an international at Twickenham - something he had never done before but longed to do. We exchanged numbers and I left to go home. 

Within a week or so, after pulling a few strings, I managed to secure two tickets for England's next match at Twickenham. Excitedly I called Simon to tell him the news. I left a message and within a few hours received a text back, not from Simon, but from his wife. Simon had discharged himself from hospital wanting to spend time at home with his wife. He had suffered multiple organ failure and ultimately his body had nothing left to give. He died just a week after I met him. For a man I had known for just 48 hours, Simon had touched my life profoundly. 

When I think of The Big C, I am humbled by the plight of people like Simon and all those involved in the caring process. 

This is for Simon. This is for the Many.

I completed my treatment, muddled my way through the slow process of getting back to normality with the constant feeling of looking over my shoulder and the fear of an abnormal blood marker or scan result. I couldn't work due to fatigue levels and not having a working shoulder didn't help the plight of a Tennis Coach. I realised just how much I wanted to get back on court and to work.

In April 2009, I began working in London and trying to rehab my shoulder. Due to it being neurological, this wasn't easy. In July I took over Captaincy of the Norfolk Men's Tennis team, serving sidearm at 30-40% and completing 11 out of 15 matches, leading the team to promotion. In early September, less than a year after treatment and with a partially paralysed shoulder, I won a Pro Doubles title with my Norfolk team mate and far superior partner, Richard Bloomfield, beating Davis Cup Winner, Dom 'The Bomb' Inglot in the final to lift the trophy. The thrill of not only being able to play the game I love, but to play at that sort of level again, was very special.

Since then, I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters - Isla and Marnie, who are now 8 and 4 respectively who joined Callum (now 21) and Louis (18) in our family. Like many, I have had a few scares over the past ten years (most recently last year), which can bring all sorts of emotions flooding back, but I consider myself a Cancer survivor - one of the fortunate ones who fought and overcame The Big C! I never wanted it to shape me but equally, I never want to forget the perspective it brought and the lessons it taught me.

Ten years on, Cancer rates are ever increasing. Please donate, share and contribute, however big or small, and join the fight to beat cancer.

Thank you for reading.

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Photos

12
  • From happy times - Our wedding - May '08
  • To this a few months later, at my brothers wedding +10

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