So the question was how to mix having chemotherapy and doing my year 10 work experience at Sheffield United?
Answer: get the OSO to arrange a meeting with the consultant oncologist who was organising my cancer treatment. I think she was a little surprised to say the least. She said she had never been asked that before, but then again, as she admitted, she had never met a team like the OSO and me before (that’s what we were, a team, and as you have probably realised by now, quite a formidable one!)
To be fair, she was great and she took the request in good heart and sorted it out so that I would have no treatment around May when I was due to be at Sheffield United. Result!
So that was that, up until then I carried on having my chemo and radiotherapy which wasn’t exactly a barrel on laughs, but it did seem to be working as the tumour in my hand was shrinking. However one of the down sides was by then all of my hair had fallen out (not helped by the fact that the OSO took the horse clippers to it!) so that I was going to be bald when I was at United.
So the OSO and I turned up at the appointed time at the Blades ground on Bramall Lane. It was a shame that mum had to come with me, but there was no real alternative because she had to drive the van to get me there, (though I made her promise to behave herself) also we weren’t too sure what I would be doing and I thought that they might have found me and my wheelchair a bit of a problem, which, as you will have probably realised by now most people and organisations didn’t really know how to deal with me!
Not a bit of it at SUFC, they were fantastic from the start.
There were three of us on work experience from different schools and we were all treated really well and had a great time. The club said they wanted to give us all a really good experience in as many of the areas of the club as they could. On the first day we had a tour of the ground and a good look round and even though I couldn’t get up into the stands, I never felt left out at all. On the second day we went up to the training ground to see the squad at work. Here the OSO was rather embarrassing in that she kept wandering round with the coach quizzing him about his training methods, still it did leave me to go round on my own and chat to the players who were really great. The manager, Neil Warnock came up in the afternoon and he too was brilliant and we all had a great time. At the end of the day some photos were taken of all of us work experience students with the team and Neil Warnock. That photo still has pride of place in our home also we were all given a signed SUFC football, and not surprisingly that is almost like a family heirloom now!
I also tried my hand at working in the club shop and sorting out the orders for the club shirts, but everyone realised that I would have to rely on the OSO to do most of that for me, so in the end I spent a lot of my time in the club archives room which was where they had lots of old stuff relating to the club and they had tours for school children, pensioners and the like going round, this was something I could do well on my own, once I have learnt all the different aspects of what was on show. It was great being there because Dave who worked there was fantastic and it got that all the OSO had to do was drop me off there in the morning and then come back and collect me later in the afternoon because Dave was more than happy to feed me my lunch and take me to the toilet etc,
‘no problem at all’ he said.
Dave and I got on really well and he even offered me a paid job on Saturdays to take groups round the archives. SUFC were brilliant because they found things that I could do rather than just think I couldn’t do anything.
The OSO was really well behaved as well, the only really embarrassing thing she did do was to jump on the club coach just as all the team players were setting off to go to a fixture. She had bought a photo of Phil Jagielka scoring an amazing goal against Leeds and she wanted him to sign the photo as she was going to give to Ali for his birthday which was (and still is for that matter) in May. (he still has it on his wall to this day) You would have thought she was getting on a school coach at work for a netball fixture or something, honestly the brass neck of her! In fairness the players didn’t seem to mind at all, they were really fantastic.
As you might have gathered by now, I really had a great experience at Sheffield United, I was really sorry when it came to an end,it was one of the best times of my life!