real life

'I don't remember a life before cancer and Crohn's disease. But Ed Sheeran gave me hope.'

Did I? Did that really happen, to me, of all people?

I am currently fighting my second bowel cancer diagnosis. I am entering my fifth year fighting this insidious disease and I have only just turned 36 years old.

Over four years of complete and utter crap – pun intended – and that’s not even counting the fight I’ve had against Crohn’s Disease since I was 15 years old. I no longer know a life without illness. A life of “normality”. An everyday person’s “bad day” would probably be one of my good days.

Anyway, 2017 was a complete sh*t show – literally. However, entering 2018 I felt I had a new lease on life, it genuinely felt like things were improving and we were getting on top of everything, in particular the infection that tried to kill me over the Easter long weekend last year, and has seen me on daily antibiotics for almost a year now.

I even had the words “you’ve got this” tattooed on my arm the day before my birthday in early January. I wanted and needed that constant reminder that yes I do indeed have this under control.

I can’t even accurately convey to you the level of mental toughness that you need to fight cancer. Physically, the human body is amazing when it comes to healing itself after such trauma. Yes we still endure many life-long side effects however, if you saw me on the street you would have no idea I am fighting cancer, Crohn’s disease and chronic infection. If you had a conversation with me, I will rarely bring it up.

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However the mental aspect of fighting cancer, to me, is far more difficult and a lot harder to repair. I entered 2018 thinking I had this in the bag, that 2018 was going to finally be MY year, a year filled with fun, making happy memories and finally some good health… well as good as it can be considering.

Halfway through January, it was time for me to stop the antibiotics to see how I would go. I had two weeks off antibiotics before I fell ill again. So back onto the antibiotics. I finished a one week dose, then this time I only had a mere three or four days off before I got sick yet again. I took another one week dose and once again, when that was finished, I was sick within a matter of days.

It’s looking like I will never be able to get off antibiotics because it appears that this is what’s keeping me alive and well right now. So why don’t I just continue on long-term antibiotics? Good question… for starters, I’ve already been taking them regularly for almost a year now. Eight of those weeks were IV antibiotics administered 24/7. So as you can see, it’s been a long and frustrating road.

Long-term antibiotics come with their own issues too. They damage an already damaged gut (yes I am taking a probiotic) and eventually I will develop a resistance to them. So it’s currently all about choosing the lesser of two evils right now.

So where does Ed Sheeran come into this?

Because Ed Sheeran is one amazing guy, that’s why!

Back in May 2017 I was laying in bed, unwell (nothing unusual) and was in an online queue for roughly four hours in an attempt to secure four tickets to his show in Adelaide in March 2018. I didn’t think I’d be successful, but I was, and that alone made my day!

Fast forward 10 months and his concert was approaching, and I had not been in a good way, both mentally and physically. A couple times in the month of February I genuinely believed I wasn’t going to make it to his concert, mostly because it felt like my body was slowly starting to shut down. It still feels that way sometimes. Knowing his concert was coming up was a huge motivation for me to keep on keeping on.

I was (and still am) so sick and tired of being so sick and tired!! I’ll be first to admit that I have been struggling… heck, I’ve been struggling since I was 15 years old. I honestly don’t remember a life without chronic illness.

Comedian Wil Anderson spoke to Mia Freedman about what it’s like being funny all the time when you’re living with chronic illness. Post continues after audio.

Again, where does Ed come into this? I suffer severe insomnia and one night whilst wide awake in bed at probably 3am, about a week before his Adelaide concert, I had an idea; maybe I can try and find someone to organise a meet and greet between he and I. I knew it would most definitely give me the lift that I so desperately needed and wanted. I’m responsible for my own wellbeing and I need to focus on doing things that keep me happy and motivated.

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In the 21 years of having severe Crohn’s disease and just over four years of bowel cancer, I’ve not been one to put my story out there purely for any sort of gain, other than to raise awareness and to try and reduce the risk of this happening to anyone else. There have been no Facebook posts asking for help – other than donations to charities or to share my blog to spread my story for awareness. I don’t hint for freebies… I simply do not and will not use the “cancer card” for any sort of personal or financial gain.

This is in no way a criticism of others who do things differently than I, but I just wanted to give you a brief understanding of the type of person that I am. Many would call me stubborn and I would say that is spot on.

So how was I going to try and go about this wish of mine when it’s not in my nature to tell someone my sob story to personally gain something out of it? It was hard. I spent ages drafting an email that I felt comfortable with, and in the end I decided to keep it simple. I wrote a brief outline of my situation, said that I had already purchased tickets so I wasn’t asking for anyone to buy them for me.

I added the links to my blog page and my Facebook page so they could see that I am genuine, and all I did was ask the question: can I please meet Ed? It was as simple as that. I didn’t beg, I wasn’t over the top, (if anything I played my situation down a bit) and sent it to as many people I could think of: radio stations, charities and tour promoters etc etc…

And then, it happened.

It actually happened, and I still pinch myself to this day, and look back at my photos to make sure it wasn’t a dream.

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I arrived at the venue at 5pm, with my mum and two sisters. Considering all four of us had purchased tickets, it was unforgettable that we all experienced this together. At around 6pm the dream came true. I was in a small group of approximately 16 people, most of which were young children that are unwell, and their parents/guardians.

We all had our own time with Ed, I can’t really tell you how long I spent with him, nor what we talked about, because it’s all such a blur. What I can tell you however, is that the way he comes across in the media, is exactly the way he is in real life.

He’s normal, he’s down to earth, he’s humble, he’s kind, he’s everything I had expected – if not more – plus he genuinely loves his fans. At the Adelaide concert there were fans camping outside the venue for days in advance, to make sure they got prime position! Ed organised for pizzas to be delivered to them. That act of kindness toward his fans doesn’t even scrape the surface.

Due to the fact his music is all on my phone, I decided to ask him if he would sign my phone, and he did, check this out…

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I love how he put an Aussie spin on it (you’ve BLOODY got this) and that smirk on his face while doing it.

ed sheeran
"He’s normal, he’s down to earth, he’s humble, he’s kind, he’s everything I had expected." Image: Supplied.

Once our meet and greet came to a close, my mum, sisters and I went to have dinner, then we returned to watch his show. WOW! I can’t even do him justice by accurately conveying to you how incredible his show was. Just wow! I was in awe for the entire two hour set, singing my stone cold heart out.

I returned home that night absolutely buzzing and on such a high, as well as the day after. I’m not much of a concert-goer because I don’t like crowds, and I don’t particularly like anyone enough to pay $100+ per ticket, especially with my health being so up and down and unpredictable. However Ed is an exception, I would see him perform again in a heartbeat. I would battle Adelaide’s 65,000-strong crowd again to see him.

It has taken me over a week to write this because it has taken me this long to comprehend what actually happened… I ACTUALLY MET ED SHEERAN!!!!

The memories will last forever and it felt beautiful to finally experience pure joy and happiness again.

Thank you Ed xox

This post was originally published on Butt Why Sherie? and was republished here with full permission. You can follow Sherie on Instagram.

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