Spod’s Special Day story

Spod was just 20 when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In January 2020 Willow arranged for her to spend a Special Day at a studio to record two of her songs.

In the country, making the video for my song
At the recording studio

I was so excited and it allowed me to just forget everything for a bit and focus on what I love the most: music!

When I was 20, I found a lump in my neck while studying at university which was subsequently diagnosed as thyroid cancer. I endured three operations and radiation treatment, but unfortunately relapsed and had to receive prolonged treatment over about three years. Now, I am pleased to say my recent scans have been clear and I graduated university in 2018.

Becoming a songwriter

Music has been a constant source of comfort and inspiration throughout my life. I began teaching myself ukulele and guitar during uni and have always enjoyed singing, but never really tried my hand at song-writing until my diagnosis. During my treatment, I decided to write a song about what I was going through. It really helped me process everything and express what I was feeling during such a dark time. I was on the cusp of the rest of my life with so many possibilities ahead of me, and yet because of cancer I had to put things on hold and live under the fear of everything I hoped to achieve being ripped away. It was an incredibly lonely time as I watched my friends do the things I couldn’t – move out, get jobs, start their adult lives. Through it all though, I gained new appreciation for life, and learned to treasure the little things even more.

My Special Day

I heard about Willow while I was in hospital and was put in touch with them. My Willow Day Maker was so accommodating and made sure that I was going to have an experience I’d really enjoy. She arranged for me to spend a day at a studio to professionally record two songs I’d written. I was so excited and it allowed me to just forget everything for a bit and focus on what I love the most: music! The day was so much fun and reaffirmed my passion for songwriting. Getting good feedback on the finished songs has been so lovely and humbling and I am grateful to everyone involved in making my Special Day. I will always remember it with a smile!

The difference my Special Day made

My Special Day made such a positive difference as it gave me something to look forward to in amongst all the unpleasant hospital-related things. I think it’s so important for people who are going through such a scary, isolating time to have something positive to focus on, because it really does provide a light in the darkness and shows there are people there to support you through it all.

Folk by the Oak

In July 2020, Willow invited me to take part in the Folk by the Oak Festival. I was honoured to perform virtually alongside some of my favourite folk artists and legends such as Richard Thompson, Seth Lakeman and Mary Chapin Carpenter while supporting Willow. Folk by the Oak takes place in the grounds of Hatfield House every year, and over the last 12 years has raised over £90,000 to support Willow Special Days. This year, the festival took place online but still raised over £10,000 for Willow.

Supporting Willow is incredibly important to me, since it focusses on helping people in their darkest moments. I’ve experienced first-hand how hard it is to live with a serious illness and how much it affects your physical and mental wellbeing. I think the work that Willow does to help alleviate some of that stress and pain is invaluable and sends the message that no matter how lonely you feel, you don’t have to go through it alone.