A truly uplifting day
Stuart was diagnosed with testicular cancer when he was 25. On further examination they found that there was cancer in both lungs, one fully, the other half. Stuart was told he had stage 4 cancer; the most aggressive form which spread from the lymph glands in his stomach into his brain and bones. Stuart was in fact a very poorly young man. Stuart's Special Day was a unique opportunity to spend a day with the Red Arrows - his mum, Joyce exaplains what the Special Day meant to them as a family.
"Prior to this, Stuart was a fit, healthy, caring young man who loved cycling, walking and who had a passion for classic cars. He was an active member of St John Ambulance and, as a teenager, he belonged to the ATC Air Cadets, where he fuelled his passion for aircraft.
Stuart remained in control of the situation, not once allowing it to get the better of him. It was as if he was telling it: 'Okay you are here in me, you have control of my body but you are not going to have control of me.' And he did, throughout his illness: he kept in control until he could control it no more. He never once changed from the person he had always been. He still put others first. He thought the nurses' time was wasted on him and that their attention was needed for patients more deserving them himself.
It was during a course of chemotherapy treatment at the Royal Marsden that the nurse spoke to Stuart about Willow. She thought it would be great for him to have a Special Day. Stuart thought long and hard about this and he decided that a day with the Red Arrows would be what he would like most. Both his dad and I thought this was the most wonderful idea and just perfect for Stuart with his love for planes. We filled out the application form and the nurse sent it off for us.
Willow called to say the Red Arrows were having a training day in September and asked if we could make this day? Well nothing was going to stop us. We were so excited and Stuart was like the cat that got the cream. He continued with his treatment, keeping focused on the date.
The day from beginning to end was ... well, just simply amazing. We met the whole of the team: the pilots, engineers, ground crew, office staff ... everyone. We were there for their pre and post flight briefings. We had a tour of the grounds, looked over the aircraft. They treated us like royalty and Stuart as a young man, not a patient. Nothing was too much trouble. Stuart by now was in a wheelchair but they didn't see the chair; they talked to Stuart, not over him.