Work.

Work is a funny thing.  It is something almost all of us will do for the largest part of our lives.  But some of us live to work and others work to live.  In the fast paced world that we now live in, work defines who we are.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have gained full time employment at the age of 18 and had the ability to earn my own money and to enjoy it how I see fit.  My move from university to a uniformed  service forced me to grow up and learn new things.  From the start I always felt that I had the attributes to be there and do the job but I have to admit, it did force me to learn how to iron properly!

I enjoy work on the whole.  At my work, no two days are ever the same and that keeps it interesting.  When I start a day or a nightshift quite literally anything could happen.  I have served with the fire service for almost 5 years now and I have been to plenty of strange incidents I can assure you.  If you can think of it, its probably happened somewhere!  I think there is a common misconception about what we do.  A huge number of people don’t realise the vast array of skills and specialisms a modern firefighter now has.  We aren’t as busy as we used to be, but that is thanks to the hard work that firefighters have put in to stop traumatic incidents occurring.

I would suggest that shifts tend to know each other better than the average colleagues ever do.  We are in each others company for around 50 hours a week so watches almost become secondary families and the station becomes a secondary home where we cook for each other, clean and train together.  I guess that’s part of what makes the fire service unique and sometimes hard to understand for people who don’t work there.  For me you should never live to work, you can still enjoy what you do, but I have been faced with the fact that life can be all too short.  There is an amazing world out there with so many incredible experiences waiting to be had.  Living purely for  work is a very narrow life.

What a lot of people don’t realise about firefighting is that it puts you at a significantly higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer because of the work we do.  The extreme heat you are subjected to affects your body, it thickens your blood and can cause significant dehydration.  Modern synthetic manufacturing materials contain carcinogens which are released in smoke when they burn.  Follow this link if you would to know more:

‘The Atlantic: How Modern Furniture Endangers Firefighters’

My family has been affected a number of times over the years, indeed the disease has been widespread in a number of different forms, which I would suggest raise the chances of me developing this disease.  When you also take into account my line of work I suppose my chances of developing cancer are fairly high.  But, I don’t spend every minute of every day worrying that I am going to get it.  I understand that risk is there and I should take the appropriate measures to try and lower that risk where I can.

Unfortunately though that risk is there for all of us.  No one is immune from developing cancer and that is why research is so important.  It’s why I believe in it so much.  It’s why I decided to try and raise £1 million.  Researching cancer, understanding it and developing new drugs takes time and a lot of money.  In the last 40 years research into cancer has doubled survival rates and Cancer Research UK want to improve those chances by half again.  But it will only happen if we all pledge to support them and pledge a pound to ensure that their vital life saving research continues at the same pace.

I have been working on a logo of sorts for the past few weeks so that I can give this ‘mission’ an identity of sorts and I will hopefully be able to publish it soon!

I had a good chat today (12/12/16) with Sarah who is my local fundraising manager for Cancer Research UK and we discussed what it is that I am trying to do and how the charity can help me work towards my goal.  I left feeling super positive and ready to take this challenge head on as the new year starts.  Positivity is something that I usually have a lot of but I am more positive than ever about what I am trying to do after my chat with Sarah today.  I’m trying to pack a huge amount into 2017 to try and raise as much money as I can and I know that the year will just fly by.  It wont be long until I’m running my first half marathon on behalf of Cancer Research UK and I can’t wait for that day to come.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

Just follow the link below to donate if you haven’t already it’s quick and easy:

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/JED-SMITH1

J.

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