Ben Calwell Urges you to Run for Home in aid of CLIC Sargent

20 year old Ben Calwell from Greenisland, pictured with Catriona Rafferty from the Deep RiverRock Events Team, has beaten cancer and is on the road back to full fitness.  He is asking you to “Run for Home” in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon in support of the event’s official charity CLIC Sargent and raise funds to support other young people with cancer

In August 2012, Ben was told by his doctors he had cancer.  The news came as a complete shock to this sporty teenager.  Ben has always been an active young man…playing just about every sport under the sun and really wanting to explore how he could turn his passion into a long-term career choice, so hearing the word cancer came as a massive blow.

Ben’s cancer journey took him to some pretty dark places and threw his life plans into flux.  However throughout his treatment, his down days and times when he couldn’t see the wood for the trees he had the support of his family and friends.

 Today, Ben is cancer free and is determined to follow his dream of working in the fitness and leisure industry.  He’s back in the gym and will begin a new course Belfast Metropolitan College in September 2014.

Ben lives in Greenisland with his parents, and while his journey (to hospital) wasn’t as long as others it was no less stressful.  Driving to any hospital at any age, no matter the reasons, isn’t always a nice trip to make…Ben’s travel time to hospital was spent thinking about what the doctors might tell him or to have yet another round of treatments. 

Speaking about his diagnosis Ben said;  “Before I was diagnosed I had read plenty of articles about cancer, and knew it was an awful disease, but until I got it I had no idea just how bad it really was.  To be honest, I haven’t got the words to describe it.  Cancer is such a debilitating disease and in so many ways…I think you need to be mentally and emotionally tough to go through the journey.”

When Ben began his treatment he was introduced to Simon Darby, a CLIC Sargent Social Worker along with a trainee social worker working alongside him.  Simon explained to Ben, and his family how CLIC Sargent could help e.g. financially (travel costs and benefits Ben was entitled to), practically (how the charity could help out with day-to-day issues) and emotionally (helping Ben and the family come to terms with the cancer diagnosis and how best to deal with all that it would throw at them).

“I’ll be honest, in the beginning, when I first met Simon I didn’t feel I needed his help…what did I need a social worker for?  All I wanted to do was start my treatment, beat cancer and move on with my life.   But, looking back, there is just no way I would have gotten through my cancer journey without Simon.

“At the point of my diagnosis he explained to me, and my family, what was going to happen and how the doctors planned to help me –it was nice to hear it in plain English!  Having someone like Simon explain the process was invaluable to us and certainly helped me to focus on what was to come.

“He also helped me to apply for the benefits that I was entitled to.  The money was great and helped to pay for the extra petrol and parking charges I incurred every time I travelled up to Belfast for treatment…he was also there for my folks, which I know meant a lot to them.

“Simon (and CLIC Sargent) also helped me, to deal with my cancer.  He listened to me when I needed to talk and was able to open up so many different avenues for me.  For example Simon encouraged me to join a group he organised…the group was made up of people my age, all of who had been through a cancer journey.  It was great; because no one had to say anything about cancer…there was an implied understanding of what we’d all been through. 

“Simon organised a lot of things for us to do; we went bowling, out for coffee and trips away.  But he also provided an environment for us to talk openly about our experiences.  He helped us to confront our cancer diagnosis and to formalise ways to talk about it e.g. how to answer education and employment related questions about what we’d been through and why cancer is nothing to be ashamed about.”

“I’m in a really good place now; my cancer has gone and I have recently started a new job as a fitness instructor.  I can honestly say that without Simon’s help I wouldn’t be where I am today.  I owe him a lot.”

“I would encourage anyone and everyone to support other young people like me who are affected by cancer by taking part in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon and raising funds for CLIC Sargent.”

CLIC Sargent’s ‘Homes from Home’ Appeal aims to help families by building a second specialist home for teenagers and young people in close proximity to Belfast’s principal treatment centre and need your help to raise £1 million to achieve this vision.  The Home from Home will be designed with the families and their circumstances in mind.  It will comprise of large en suite family bedrooms, communal living and kitchen spaces, a quiet room and age appropriate play space. 

This Home from Home follows on from the first one opening earlier this year, just a few steps from the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.  The home will be provided free of charge – offering families the ability to remain close to their child while they undergo treatment as well as the chance to maintain a sense of a normal family life by keeping the whole family together.

Eimear McCooey, Corporate Fundraising Manager said; “We are delighted that Ben is supporting the “Run for Home” campaign in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Half Marathon and thank him for sharing his experience with us to encourage others to take part.  Earlier this year over 3000 people took to the streets of Belfast in the Deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon, we were blown away by the support received and the vital funds raised for CLIC Sargent’s Home from Home Appeal.  2014 is a big year for the charity, earlier this year we opened Northern Ireland’s first ever ‘Home from Home’ for families of young children undergoing cancer treatments at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. Although we are over half way, our fundraising focus is to develop a second Home from Home specifically designed for teenagers and young adults which will be located in close proximity to the City Hospital.

The ‘Homes from Home’ appeal to date has received tremendous support from the people of Northern Ireland, but we still have some way to go before we reach the fundraising targets.  So, if you’re a runner and are interested in getting involved in the 2014 half marathon, why not do it and ‘Run for Home’ for CLIC Sargent?  Any money you raise will stay in Northern Ireland and will go directly to the NI ‘Homes from Home’ appeal.”

CLIC Sargent Official Charity of The deep RiverRock Belfast City Marathon.