Monday 8th January 2018
Primary School teacher, Chris Fancourt, came up with a really inventive and challenging fundraising idea for us last year: taking part in 100 different sports over 100 days!
Chris, who teaches at St Lawrence School on Jersey, kicked off his challenge with a triathlon and finished with the Jersey Marathon, with everything from taekwondo, power boating and frisbee golf in between!
Chris went through cancer as a young adult, aged just 21, so really understands the challenges faced by the young people we help. When he was diagnosed, Chris was a University student enjoying his long summer off until he started experiencing extreme sharp pains in his back. After a number of tests, including an ultrasound, a growth was discovered in his abdomen. Doctors also noticed an abnormality in Chris’ right testicle. A biopsy taken of the growth revealed it to contain cancerous cells. Chris was told he would need 6-9 month of chemotherapy, for his testicle to be removed and that he would have his fertility reduced.
Chris struggled to process the news and found it really hard to tell his friends about the diagnosis but he received a lot of support, which gave him the strength he needed to face up to the treatment ahead.
He was treated in Southampton and, whilst he was grateful that his friends visited him, he also found it challenging at times. He said:
I would often wonder what my visitors would think when they came to see me. Whether they would be shocked seeing me with no hair, or whether they would act differently now I had a life-threatening illness.
In Southampton, Chris was diagnosed with the rare Primitive Neuro Ecto Dermal Tumour (PNET) abdominal cancer and was given a 20% chance of surviving. However, he defied the odds and endured 12 cycles of chemotherapy over a 9-month period and two operations, returning to Jersey and going into remission.
In a journal he wrote at the time, Chris said:
Having had a brush with death has definitely put a new perspective on everything, and has actually changed my priorities in life. I definitely appreciate life a lot more now, after going through such an arduous experience. I have fought this cancer and I’m currently winning the battle.
Chris’ cancer returned the following year, in 2001, which meant more chemotherapy, more surgery and radiotherapy. It was a very challenging time for the 23 -year old, who felt his body deteriorate under the bombardment of treatments and suffered with depression from the mental strain of having to face up to cancer again after such a short reprieve. The cancer had spread to Chris’ kidney, which had to be removed. Again, he was given the all clear after several months and - years later - the cancer has not returned.
Having had such frightening first-hand experience of cancer as a young adult, Chris’ determination to support Teenage Cancer Trust has shone through during his remarkable sporting challenge, taking on 100 different sports. He even managed to get through the last 50 days of the challenge with a broken toe! Chris aimed to raise £5,000 but absolutely smashed his target, raising an amazing £7,785. He has also been able to benefit the primary school he works in by bringing a variety of sports from his challenge back for the children to try out.
Chris’ friends and community were incredibly generous in their support, with Jersey Rugby Club helping by holding bucket collections. He celebrated being cancer free for 18 years last year.