When 28 year old Mark O’Kane, recently posted a video on his Facebook page, documenting the latest side effects he was experiencing from his cancer treatment, he wasn’t expecting the response his video received.
Diagnosed with testicular cancer last Christmas, Mark has been making regular videos to share his latest news of his diagnosis, to give updates on the treatment and their effects, as well as for him to be able to give an honest account of the rollercoaster he is currently on.
Sharing his story via his Facebook page, Mark’s videos tell of how he found a lump in his testicle late last year, whilst checking himself, and so took himself off to the doctors. With a family history of testicular cancer, Mark was referred to the hospital. He had his testicle removed and a biopsy found that it was a malignant tumour – cancer.
Since his diagnosis, Mark has been undergoing a course of chemotherapy. It is this particular stage of his cancer treatment and one of Mark’s subsequent videos, which set the ball rolling for the #MyChemoHero campaign.
Unbeknown to the father of two, after he had posted a video of him talking about his hair loss from the chemo, a group of his friends, who had watched it, were messaging one another to discuss how they could show their solidarity to him.
“Sometimes you see something on social media and it stops you completely in your tracks,” Pete Bruce explains. “A couple of weeks ago, Mark posted a video and it showed the affect that chemo was having on him – he had lost lots of his hair – and it really struck a chord with me.
“It got me thinking about how the lads and I could do something to show Mark that we’re all here for him during this time and so I proposed to them that we shaved off our hair in solidarity.”
The initial small group of close friends agreed that they’d all shave off their hair but they didn’t want it to stop there.
“Mark is not our only friend to have had chemotherapy,” Brydie Bruce added. “Also last year, another good friend, Joanna Terrell, who is also 28, started her treatment for cancer, after finding a lump in her breast. Whilst Jo has successfully had the lump removed, she is still receiving regular injections and has also had radiotherapy and chemotherapy as part of her treatment.
“As a group of friends we wanted to do something. We wanted to do something to show Mark and Jo, and others who might face this situation, that we’re proud of them for being as strong as they can be and that we are there for them every step of the way.
“We also want to support Mark and Jo on their mission to raise awareness of self-checking; stressing the importance of being familiar with our own bodies; regularly checking them for changes, for lumps and bumps that shouldn’t be there and to make sure that if we do find something, we get it checked out as quickly as possible. Early diagnosis saves lives.”
Introducing #MyChemoHero – an awareness campaign, which is also raising funds for cancer patients at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.
The campaign launched less than two weeks ago, with a video shared on social media of Pete having his hair shaved off as an act of solidarity for Mark. Since then a further 25 individuals have undertaken acts of support for their heroes and £580 has been raised so far.
“We’re looking for people to join us by doing something in support of their hero,” Pete concluded. “It can be absolutely anything; a head shave, running a half marathon, simply posting a picture on their social media account. Whatever you do though, we’re asking, do it for #MyChemoHero.”
If you want to get involved and find out more, a Facebook group has been set up for people to join us – search #MyChemoHero
There is also a JustGiving page and a text donation (Text MYCH50 £[amount] to 70070), with all the funds raised going to supporting the treatment of cancer patients at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth.
Thanks for taking the time to read and please help us raise money and spread awareness.