So…why 'Team Twomey'?
It's a question I’ve been asked quite frequently over the past few months since this website took life. So I decided I would explain its origins and why I've decided to use it.
In early 2001, when I was 7, I started to suffer from pain in my right foot, and once my parents realised this we went and sought medical advice about what was wrong. I don’t think anyone would’ve thought in a million years that this limp was due to a Ewing Sarcoma cancer growing in my right foot.
It was all systems go then and time to take action. Obviously at that age I was old enough to realise that I had something bad, but young enough to not grasp it that well. It may sound a bit odd as there is no ‘good’ time to get cancer, but I definitely was able to adapt and overcome a lot of it with young naivety.
Obviously this stark realisation hit my family for six! This is my mum and dad – Joanne and Clint – and my brother Cal. Not to mention my extended family, such as my grandparents, uncles, aunties and some of our family friends that were so close you could almost call them family.
What ensued from here on was that I began to undergo chemotherapy three days a week every three weeks. Now apart from becoming bald as a badger and feeling pretty unwell during those three days I had little side effects from it.
Later that year on August 15, 2001, I went under the knife with the plan to be that they pinch some of my fibula from my left and ‘good’ leg, to replace the bit of the tibia on my right and ‘bad’ leg where the tumour was. Unfortunately due to complications that is not how it all panned out, and I came out of there a below knee amputee.
I should mention now that my memory of most of 2001 is pretty hazy at best, a lot happened, and I’ve recently rehashed a lot of it with my mum whose memory is like a vault and remembers most of what happened.
Speaking of mum, let's get back to 'Team Twomey'. Team Twomey was a phrase coined most likely by my Dad at around this time. Every seven-year-old needs a family, full of love and support. But any seven-year old, or any child, with cancer needs that love and support times a million! Ok, ok maybe not times a million, I’m a bit biased, but you get what I mean.
Team Twomey was my support crew, my immediate and extended family, friends, my late surgeon Dr Torode who pinched my 5 right piggies off me, my physio Brendan Egan, who earnt every dollar trying to get my to do my exercises and learn to walk again, Dave Rogers and the Challenge Cancer Network who did amazing things for not just myself, but my family at large (and still do to this day!) and I can’t forget my new Jack Russell puppy Scamp, who made lying in bed all the time that little bit more enjoyable!
Fast forward a little over a decade, and I still was reeling with grief over the loss of my leg and everything that happened. I never dealt at the time, and it came back to bite me! Teenage years are difficult enough, throw a prosthetic sized spanner in the works and I struggled. Silently I struggled for a long time.
I see now my grief made me selfish, I thought I was the only one who went through anything that period of my life. That everyone else got off easy and I didn’t. I believed I was a victim, that I was entitled to do as I pleased. So combine those core beliefs with an addictive personality and a knack for getting myself into trouble I quickly careered off track. I won’t delve into that too much, but I hope you get the idea.
I was a well below average son, brother, nephew, cousin, grandson, friend to pretty much everyone in my life. My family endured hell experiencing what we did, and then my behaviour put them through a different kind of hell all together.
Today, life isn’t like that. I have worked incredibly hard to get into the place I am – mentally, emotionally and physically. I'm no longer a victim, I have chosen to take responsibly for my life and while I may have been dealt a hand that others weren’t, I’m no different. All that matters is what I do with those cards!
So why Team Twomey? A bit like this blog, my life in the past few years has done the full circle and covered all bases. Yes, I do what I want today, and love what I do, but I do it for my Team. I do it for my family, for each and every one of them. I also do it for my ‘extended’ family, organisations like The Challenge Cancer Network, The START Foundation, The Black Dog Institute, and all the people I’ve met along the way who’ve steered me in the right direction.
Life will have its challenges, that are its only guarantee, but with a team like Team Twomey behind me, there’s nothing to fear!