Martin’s Warrior Story

Sometimes it takes a major event in your life to give you the wake up call you need.

It takes that something major for you to step back and realise who and what is important to you.

It takes that something major to sometimes slap you in the face and realise that a bucket list shouldn’t be a bucket list. It should be a ‘to do’ list!

Testicular cancer at 17 will do that to you!!

Even at that age I was very aware that I could beat cancer and that I needed to put on a brave face no matter what I was feeling so that others didn’t worry too much (not sure that really worked – but I did my best!).

Plenty of hospital waiting rooms, time in having chemo and feeling crap on your sofa gives you plenty of time to think about what your going to do when it’s all over. For me that escape and that dream was surfing. Something I had always put off because I didn’t feel I would necessarily fit into the scene, I didn’t think it was a viable hobby living in the South East of England, I didn’t think I’d be good enough and didn’t want to look an idiot….. Suddenly I didn’t care so much about what others thought and I was going to be ‘me’.

After approximately 6 months of treatment I was given the all clear but I think it was the regular check-ups that took more of a mental toll on me than the cancer itself. The worry before every appointment – were results going to come back clear, would they find something else, would I have this constant cloud hanging over my head?!

I’m not sure if it’s the British in us but we have a tendency to suppress these negative thoughts so that we appear strong to the outside world and give off this persona that we are dealing with everything just fine. Truth is we can only do that for so long before we need to hit the reset button. 20 years ago that reset for me was learning to surf and taking a trip to the beach anytime my head became clouded. Once you realise that driving to the sea most weekends to find there is no surf is starting to lose its appeal you look for other ways to get your dose of vitamin sea. For me this is when I discovered Stand Up Paddleboarding – no waves, fine I’ll go for a flat water paddle. Bit of swell, great I’ll take out a rigid SUP and catch waves early and often. Travelling abroad I’ll take an inflatable (and challenge any airline to break it!).

For me the sea has always been my escape and where I can go to genuinely get away from life’s stresses. Out on the water you have to concentrate, focus and only deal with what is happening there and then. The sea doesn’t care if you have bills to pay, a high pressure job, a family to provide for – it will keep doing what it always does – wave after wave, tide after tide. I love the saying that ‘a smooth sea never made a skilful sailor’ and I think this is very true in life. We all experience highs and lows and they shape who we are as a person. It’s how we deal with these highs and lows that are important. SUP has not only provided me with a means of escape but with a community of paddlers who have become good friends. I’ve been fortunate enough to find a hobby that also opened up opportunities for me to become a regional rep for Surfers Against Sewage ( https://www.sas.org.uk ) and a brand ambassador for Sea Lion Boards ( https://www.sealionboards.com ). If the sea is not your thing, find what is. Running, cycling, knitting, I really don’t think it matters what it is, what’s important is that it’s what you want to do and it’s the people you want to surround yourself with. We can all try to conform to what we think society wants but unless we are being true to ourselves then will we ever truly be happy and content? Personally I don’t think so.

Yes, I’m a father, husband and a business development manager but I’m also a surfer and stand up paddle-boarder. I’m not one of these things, I’m all of them, and I think that is sometimes where the struggles come from – it’s a big juggling act and sometimes not an easy one!

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