month++ - May 2021 - Back on the ice & saying goodbye to Harry

Jun 11, 2021 10 min read
month++ - May 2021 - Back on the ice & saying goodbye to Harry

Back on the ice

After a long while (6 months for me) of no access to the rink, adult skaters are finally allowed back! It was so nice to get into my skates again and feel the ice underneath my blades and that coooool breeze in your hair when you pick up speed.

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Although the rinks were closed, it didn’t mean the work stopped. Entering Lockdown 3.0 in November 2020, I started a fitness journey with my previous cheerleading coach turned fitness coach. At first, I joined her 1 monthly training program as something to work towards whilst I couldn’t get on the ice. Well, it turned into a complete lifestyle change! I’ve been chipping away at 4 – 5 sessions a week over the past 6 months, and I feel much stronger and more flexible returning to on-ice training (thanks Jane!). Plus, the shopping bags are a lot easier to carry in a single trip from the car now. #winning

For those that don’t know, I skated when I was younger for a few years, then returned to lessons after 11 years to start to re-learn. Back then I had made it through Skate UK levels 1-10, then Bronze to Gold, before I stopped. Right now I’ve made my way back up to working on Bronze level skills. Going to the rink is a highlight of my week and I feel like my inner child is in her element when I’m skating!

My short term goal is to pass Gold by the end of August 2021, and a long term goal would be to compete at the British Ice Skating Adult Nationals.

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5AM mornings

You may have read in one of my previous posts “What I learned from waking up at 5am“. Well, I’m still going strong with 5am wakeups on weekdays! There have been a couple of days here and there where I decided to wake up a little later (for example, on bank holidays, or where I was simply very very tired), but overall I’m pretty proud that I’m not snoozing my alarm anymore. My battery-powered alarm clock has been a welcome addition! One of the biggest perks is that I’ve been able to start work early and finish early, allowing me more time in the evening to work on my personal projects or chill out.

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Eurovision

We had a virtual Eurovision watch party with our uni friends, where we collectively witnessed a dancing finger, some wild public voting, and the UK getting double 0 – ouch!

Source: Eurovix

First paid project

One of the highlights of this month was getting my first paid web design related project! I re-designed my brother’s website for his small business, going through the process of:

  • understanding his needs and business goals
  • analysing his existing website for UI/UX improvements
  • creating a wireframe (digital pen and paper on iPad)
  • creating a mockup (using Figma)
  • creating and presenting a proposal to show how I could provide value (the Figma mockup came in handy!)
  • getting the information / content required for the updates
  • implementing the design (using Wix as per their request)
  • client review + tweaks
  • mini celebration when they are happy yay!!

I enjoyed this project a lot, and have had a good response so far, as he has had increased business enquiries!

Saying goodbye to Harry

Harry's Celebration of Life

“Take each day as it comes, forget the pains of yesterday and try not to let the worries and unknowns of tomorrow take you away from being present in the moment. Intend to live each moment, good or bad, with a state of love, peace, and gratitude.” - Harry Martin

Another first, this time, sadly a funeral. On the 16th May, I received a message from my mum sharing the news that Harry had passed away. With his mum Aunty Eileen and my mum being close friends, we had grown up together alongside my brother and Harry’s siblings Maisie and Charlie.

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As we went into our first lockdown in 2020, Harry was diagnosed with Grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme – an aggressive cancer that began and spread throughout his spine.

The Martins

A year later in March 2021, we got to virtually witness Harry and Sinead become husband and wife. It was a small ceremony but you could feel the huge amount of love, and it was just a really beautiful experience. Many tears were shed!

The newlyweds and family

On the 7th May Harry posted his last Facebook update, which was very powerful indeed. You can read it below:

"This is hard to type, physically and emotionally. This is likely to be my last facebook post/update as my physical symptoms are progressing at an exponential rate. I am typing this with the use of one hand as my other is now close to complete loss of function.

I have now entered the dark pathway that will finish up at death’s door. My physical pain is still an issue, some mornings I can barely turn my head or feed myself breakfast, and I am having to adjust to life as a quadriplegic rather than a paraplegic.

As I helplessly watch my physical body deteriorate until eventually I am completely unable to physically do anything myself (which is my biggest fear and is going to be traumatic for me to witness), I remind myself that I am a spiritual consciousness observing a physical human experience and there is a greater purpose that I am serving. I believe that I am on purpose and doing exactly what my life is intended for.

My exponential learning curve from all of this can be summed up as “take each day as it comes, forget the pains of yesterday and try not to let the worries and unknowns of tomorrow take you away from being present in the moment. Intend to live each moment, good or bad, with a state of love, peace and gratitude. Do not take anything for granted as tomorrow never comes there is only now. Remember that you are a magnificent physical manifestation, originating from the god-source universal energy, therefore we are all divine, wonderous beings here to learn from a human experience. Most of all, learn to love and forgive yourself, as hard as that may be at times, for we all deserve that gift to ourselves”

My life, has been a blessing. Although it has not gone my way and I grieve all the dreams I had for my future, I am grateful for all that I have experienced, and am continuing to experience. There is always beauty and light to be found in the darkest moments if you are looking for them. I want to die sometimes when things seem so bleak and painful and then I want to never die and remain in those wonderous moments of pure happiness forever, but that’s impossible!

I am grateful for every loving message of support I have received, and all the lovely people I have met during this journey. I love you all. But most of all, my amazing wife and family, who care for me every day at the forefront of this, without them I genuinely believe that I would not be here right now. I love them dearly, they are the best support I could ever ask for.

Here’s to life, it’s the best present going! #keeppushing #keepsmiling"

Then, just a couple of months later from their celebration of love, we attended Harry’s celebration of life… and many more tears came. I drove back to my hometown of Swindon and went to the service with my family.

I didn’t know what to expect. It was a very strange feeling when I saw his casket; one that I can’t quite put into words, but it feels engraved into my brain.

Source: Swindon Advertiser

The Martin’s shared treasured memories and emotional tributes, and Sinead read out a beautifully written letter (full writeup here).

You faced your demons head-on and instead of remaining bitter and angry about your circumstances… you used it as another opportunity to learn, to grow, to lead and to teach, and my goodness how you’ve taught us all.” - Sinead Martin

He embodied gratitude, tenacity and true resilience. Watching his journey has reshaped my perception of life. He inspired so many people, myself included, and I hope his story inspires you too.

In Sinead’s words, “Go, be and do it all, in honour and in memory of our beautiful, brave Harry.”.

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You can donate to Harry’s chosen charities here (Prospect Hospice & Brain Tumor Research)

You can read Harry’s Funeral Speech below:

Harry Martin’s funeral speech (written 6th April 2021)
"Hello everyone,

Thanks for turning up, I bet you thought you were done hearing from me but I’m still here, in spirit, just free from the physical body that once housed me. I really am not sure what to say here. Though first and foremost, I want to reassure you all that I am no longer in pain, no longer suffering and I am at peace. I would like to talk a little about my journey through cancer and paralysis.

Initially, they broke me, into a thousand pieces. And my world of control and routine was being taken away by an invisible enemy. But once something is broken, it can either stay broken, or it can be rebuilt. So that is what happened to me, I had a chance to reset and work on myself.

Being so dependent on my physical ability to have an outlet for stress and worries, my mental and emotional health/management were not on my list to be worked on because I thought I had it all under control. Little did I know.

The first few months after coming back from John Radcliffe from surgery were absolute hell. I had no idea what the days or nights would bring, typically a lot of pain. It was a living nightmare from which I could not wake, or even move from. All I could do was lay there and accept it.

Radiotherapy finished with a very encouraging scan. Then onto the adjuvant chemotherapy. 4 months of rashes, hospitalisation, infections and generally feeling pretty crap. Though physiotherapy was making progress each month which brought a lot of positive energy to the negative side effects of chemotherapy. But, as I was making progress, so was the cancer. That phone call will stay will me for eternity.

I was blue lighted in the ambulance the next day back to Oxford for 5 days of palliative radiotherapy. I had to stay overnight there as it was so last minute the transport couldn’t be booked in time. Staying on the ward for one night, on the max dose of steroids that kept me up all night. I was writing up everything in my journal, my thoughts, my feelings, and what had happened.

It was during this journal entry that I had something hit me real hard. That all life ends. At some point. Death comes to us all, so make peace with that. Being told that I have such a small chance and it’s likely to kill me actually opened a door that allowed me to enter into this higher realm filled with pure love and gratitude for life. Leaving the hospital that day was a beautiful moment. My wheelchair was a bit comfier, the food I consumed exploded with flavour and the outside air was beautifully fresh.

From that point, I decided I had to get on with living with cancer and paralysis. I kept smashing physiotherapy sessions and eventually stood with a machine, even though I knew in the back of my mind I would lose it all again at some point down the line. I wanted to raise money for the Teenage and Young Adult cancer trust once I had beaten the cancer, but that wasn’t looking likely so I did it the next week after finishing radiotherapy and raised a decent amount of money whilst being able to challenge myself physically again was a personal bonus. I made sure that I had seen as many family and friends before Christmas, I went out to several different places in the wheelchair car and topped it all off with the best Christmas/New year period ever.

During these times I have tried a variety of techniques to keep myself in the present moment. Journaling was my first, just writing and putting pen to paper was enough to calm me most days. Meditating has been an on and off thing that I been using to elevate my feelings of joy, peace, love and gratitude. A lot of reading about self-healing, spirituality, and autobiographies about personal struggle.

Every day, I reminded myself that tomorrow never comes. Today is now and it will never stop being now.

Journal Entry from 8th May
And here I am, with the use of one arm, and death is now a beautiful prospect for myself. Dreaming of the day that I can be out of this suffering. Strange, I think of Jesus right now and his suffering and sacrifice for mankind’s sins. Maybe I have been chosen, to suffer, learn and spread what I have learnt to as many people as possible? After all, Jesus’ messages were that of self-love, spreading love, and living a life of service. Whether he was the son of god or not is a pointless question, he was a real person trying to help people see what life is about, just like Buddha, or Ghandi. I’m not saying I am special, everyone is a divine creation from the infinite loving god source. I believed since I was a toddler that I had a greater purpose, and just maybe, inspiring people to see life from a perspective of love, peace and gratitude is it. My suffering is my service to my small corner of the world and even further afield across the world!
That last paragraph sounds a bit egotistical, comparing myself to some of the most enlightened souls in history. But, there is a greater purpose for me, all this cant be for nothing, and if it helps just one person SEE life as I believe it meant to be lived now, then all of this is worth it."

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