John Rainbow

Location

Norwich

Condition

Lung Cancer

What happened

John Rainbow
 
John sits in a coffee shop close to Big C’s Office in Norwich City Centre. He’s been a loyal supporter of Big C in different ways for a long time and it was nice to finally meet him after hearing his name around the office for such a long time. Describing himself as always having had an affinity with Big C, he says it’s a disease that affects everyone.
 
John has worked for Aquaterra, an engineering company in Norwich for many years. When he first started at Aquaterra a charity fundraising group was being set up within the company with a view to fundraise for a number of charities. John ran the charity group and felt very strongly that he wanted to choose Big C. Aquaterra decided they wanted to attach to a charity and thus Big C became the lucky beneficiaries of three years of close support from Aquaterra, from sponsoring newsletters to helping pay for many of the costs associated with being the chosen charity for the Lord Mayor’s Procession.
 
“My sister-in-law had been diagnosed with cancer. She was very young and had only recently met my brother. He’d finally found the love of his life and he asked her to marry him. Shortly after they got engaged in August 2007, she started feeling pains in her mouth. Devastatingly, she was diagnosed with terminal throat cancer. She had an operation in February 2008 to try and remove the cancer but sadly it was unsuccessful. They got married but the marriage was sadly to be a short one as she died in October 2008. 
 
John decided he wanted to do something for Big C. He discovered his love of cycling through a work friend, Steve, who also had cancer and who later sadly died from it. He took on the challenge of the London to Paris Cycle Ride. John says, “It was a great achievement. I felt so pleased to have done it and best of all I raised £2,500 for Big C. I was pretty proud of that”.
 
Devastatingly for John’s family, his mother in law was diagnosed with cancer around the time he did his bike ride. She had lung cancer and had some successful treatment. John says, “We thought she’d licked it, but sadly it had spread to her brain. She died a year after diagnosis at the end of 2012.”
 
“My mother in law used the Big C Centre, Norwich. She went for wig fittings. She’d always had lovely, long, flowing hair and was devastated to lose it. She and my father in law had been together for 50 years. The Centre offered them some respite between appointments. They’d just sit and have a coffee, relax, take some breaths”.
 
Recently John’s family have had yet another blow. His father in law has been diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer. “There’s nothing they can do. He got me into my other great pleasure (aside from cycling), which is golf. I always hoped we’d be able to play a few more games together. Sadly now he’s too ill and it won’t happen.”
 
John’s father in law has also made use of the Big C Centre since he was diagnosed. He used it before when his wife was ill and is now using the advice and respite himself.
 
Despite the huge amount of sadness in his story, John is still able to smile and reflect on what has happened. He says, “This whole experience has actually brought us together as a family. It was tough for my kids, losing their grandmother and their aunt. More so than we realised at the time. But if no one is ever sick and nothing bad happens you just get on with your life. This has created a bond between us.”
 
He also adds, “All of this came at a time in my life where I’d had my kids, built my career and was approaching mid-life crisis stage. I thought, you can either buy a Ferrari or do crazy things for charity. And I can’t afford a Ferrari”.
 
John finishes by talking about his love for Big C and how he donates. He says, “I see big charities as too big. I like the way Big C caters for Norfolk. Money you give to big charities goes across the country. Plus I feel more of every pound goes directly towards benefitting people if I donate to Big C, whereas it seems that many larger charities spend a great deal on other things.
 
I decided to start giving to Big C on a regular, monthly basis. Sadly cancer seems to be such a regular thing that regular giving seems to fit. Also, I raise a lot of money when I do big bike events or similar but I might not be able to do them very often. I still do them as well but it could be a year or so between events – life is busy after all. This way I know Big C are getting money in every month from me and I get the feel-good feeling of able to give whatever I’m doing.