On 25th January 2016, our beautiful son, Jacob, was diagnosed with a brain tumour. This was detected during an MRI scan that was a follow up to a seizure he had in December 2015. Jacob had no other signs of illness, so this came as a massive shock to us all. Since diagnosis we have focused only on Jacob and getting him through some very tough hurdles with the amazing support of our family and friends near and far. He has undergone 16 months of chemotherapy and endured over 18 operations. Our hearts are bursting with pride as he has been, and still is, nothing short of amazing. He bounces back from everything thrown at him and continues to make massive strides forward.
Needless to say the last two years have been extremely stressful for all of us, both physically and emotionally. It really has been a rollercoaster.
In May 2017, we read an article in the Scotsman about The Ripple Retreat, a place where young cancer patients and their families can stay for a few days to escape from the stresses and anxieties that treatment brings. My wife Suzanne wrote to Lynne to see if it would be possible for us to stay for a few days as we weren’t sure if we would qualify as we live in Glasgow and the charity is based in Edinburgh so we thought perhaps they only support young people in East Scotland. Lynne wrote back to us explaining that the retreat is for young cancer patients from all over Scotland and she booked us in for five nights.
We were speechless when we arrived; the Ripple Retreat is one of the most beautiful buildings we’ve ever seen set amidst the most stunning of surroundings on Loch Venachar. Lynne met us at the door, showed us around and explained how everything in this super high spec house worked. Suzanne and I both had tears in our eyes as Lynne drove off leaving us with an incredibly excited four year old boy. What to do first?!
Our days at the Ripple Retreat will remain with us forever. For the first time since our nightmare started we were able to distance ourselves from treatment and surgery. Lynne also had support from local business that had provided us with vouchers for meals, activities and the butchers! We were able to recharge our batteries and spend time as a family again and forget about the huge stresses of the last two years. We were able to heal.
Jacob loved the large open-plan living space, playing the drums for the first time, playing outside on the swing and jumping on the musical stepping stones. In the evenings we would look out the lovely windows watching the sun set as Jacob watched Monsters Inc for the 100th time. For Suzanne and myself it was wonderful just to see Jacob enjoying himself and so relaxed. We felt like a normal family again and that was therapy in itself.
We owe Lynne and Ian a huge amount of gratitude. What they have achieved with the Ripple Retreat is nothing short of a miracle and I know that so many other families in a similar situation have also benefited immensely from their stay at the Ripple Retreat.
Thank you Lynne and Ian.
Paul Chapman (Jacob’s Dad).
postscript by Lynne
In past few weeks Paul has taken on a huge fundraising challenge for our charity – four big outdoor swims. I feel shivery even writing about it. Ian and I went to see him swim on Saturday past – he swam south to north Queensferry in the River Forth (1.4miles). The conditions at the start of the swim were quite different to those at the end. The wind had picked up and the current was much stronger. Several swimmers had to be rescued by the rescue boats.(Paul wasn’t one of them) This was Paul’s third swim for us having done 2miles in Loch Lomond and 5.8km the length of Loch Lubnaig a few weeks back. His last swim will be to swim the length of Loch Venachar (5.3km) – The Ripple Retreat’s loch!
If you would like to sponsor Paul you can do so here. He is definitely one of my heroes.