23/12/2013 15:00

Twice cancer sufferer Greig Trout's inspirational anti-bucket list

Greig Trout beat cancer when he was seven years old and later in his thirties. Now he's on a mission to see and enjoy as much of the world as he can.

Greig Trout (© Greig Trout)

Everyone at some point thinks about packing in the day job and following their dreams. But few are brave enough to sell up lock, stock and barrel and set off on a world adventure.

Greig Trout, however, has done just that. He is living the dream, inspired by the fact that he has beaten cancer, not once, but twice.

Greig, 34, a former Metropolitan Police Crime Scene Examiner, has set up a website called 101 Things to Do When You Survive. And he is now travelling to far-flung corners of the world, ticking them off his list one by one.

Greig is one of the survivors behind Cancer Research UK’s Every Moment Counts campaign which highlights the special moments of those who have encountered the disease.

Greig’s first encounter with cancer was aged seven when he was treated for a stage 4 Wilms tumour. He underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a nephrectomy – his right kidney was removed.

After lengthy treatment he thought he had beaten the disease. But 23 years later, it came back to haunt him. He was diagnosed with Dukes B bowel cancer and in 2010 and underwent a colonectomy and further chemotherapy.

He said: “After my bowel operation and with chemo looming, the worst-case scenario was death. At that point, my thoughts were not of all I had achieved at work as a crime scene examiner or the nice apartment I lived in, they were of the places I had visited and of the experiences I had had. I also thought of the places I hadn’t seen yet and may never get a chance to.

“When I got my two-year ‘all clear’, I decided the time was right to follow my dreams and travel the world with the aim of inspiring others affected by cancer.”

The idea came to him when he was in a hospital waiting room.

“It’s exactly that “Every Moment Counts” feeling. As I watched people come and go, I knew some of them weren’t going to get good news. I thought how wonderful it would be if they could come on my trip with me and the idea of ‘101 Things to Do When You Survive’ was born.

“Most books and travel journals concentrate on bucket lists and ‘things to do before you die’. I thought it was about time to inspire others to show them what is waiting for them when they survive.

“I knew I wanted to create a website showing a double cancer survivor who has one kidney, a missing piece of bowel and deep vein thrombosis, living a full and happy life.”

When he had cancer as a seven-year-old Greig accepted his parents word that he would be OK and didn’t worry about it.

“Apparently I only ever asked my parents once if I was going to die. They said ‘No. We love you too much for that to happen’. That was good enough for me and I never thought about dying again.

“When I was diagnosed again at 30, I wasn’t anywhere near as ill as I had been when I was a child, but the emotional effects were far greater.”

Travelling was probably in Greig’s blood all along. He was born in Dumfries, raised in Newcastle, spent some of his teenage years in Bristol and went to Uni in London before joining the Met.

So far he has spent three months working with a remote community in Nicaragua, climbed a volcano in Costa Rica and gone nature-watching on the Galapagos Islands.

Among the other adventures on his list are:

  • Learning to tango in Argentina.
  • Standing at the foot of Angel Falls in Venezuela
  • Kayaking on the Amazon
  • Singing Flower of Scotland on stage at the Sydney Opera House
  • Having an entire 24 hours when he doesn’t think about cancer.

As well as the backing of family and friends, he has had some famous name support and inspiration.

“I picked up a magazine in the doctor’s waiting room and read an article about Kylie Minogue. She said there wasn’t a day that went by where she didn’t think about cancer. Strangely this made me feel better. I thought I was going nuts thinking about cancer all the time but it turns out that I wasn’t the only one. I think people benefit from knowing that they are not alone in worrying about cancer when cured.”

Adventurer Bear Grylls has himself been inspired by Greig’s mission. He said: “Greig is truly one brave man and is determined to shine a light and help and inspire those who have faced real battles. I admire his courage and resolve so much.”

He also has medical admiration from oncology specialists Professor Mike Stevens and Professor Sir Alan Craft.

Professor Stevens, Professor of Paediatric Oncology at the University of Bristol, said: “When I first met Grieg, he had already experienced more than his fair share of challenges from the consequences of treatment for cancer in childhood. Characteristically he hadn’t let this get in the way of life. But having to confront cancer again at the age of 30 was another, bigger mountain for him to climb.

“Going through treatment all over again was tough and far from straightforward but he emerged with his positive approach not just intact, but strengthened.

“Grieg’s quest to make every moment count is not just for himself but an inspiration for all other people dealing with life beyond cancer”.

Professor Craft, Consultant Paediatrician at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle and formerly professor of Child Health at Newcastle University, said: “Greig is a remarkable young man. As a child he had a very advanced cancer and needed the most intense treatment. He got through it with impressive courage and determination and help from an incredibly supportive family.

“Almost 30 years on he battled his way through cancer again and now he is on the adventure of a lifetime with the aim of inspiring others that there is life beyond a diagnosis - or two - of cancer.

“Greig is one of those special patients who inspires us all to find better treatments and ensure that more people can fulfil their dreams.”

Although he didn’t know it at the time, the treatment Greig had 23 years ago, helped shape the treatment children receive now. Cancer Research UK’s work has underpinned today's treatment for Wilms' tumours – the most common childhood kidney cancer.

Grieg is slowly working his way through his 101 list.

He said: “I get to travel to the most awe-inspiring and beautiful places around the world. I’m sharing that experience with others by updating the website with video blogs, fitness ratings for cancer patients and survivors, and offering nutritional recipes and tips

“People tell me I’m brave. I’m not. When I was told I had cancer, I just crumbled. Having the website has given me a whole new goal. I feel stronger and getting letters from people telling me it has made a difference to them is brilliant.”

Since planning the trip Greig’s anxiety levels have reduced significantly. He is sleeping better and importantly, he doesn’t think about cancer every moment of every day anymore.

He has many more experiences to add – numbers 50 – 101 have still be decided.

Lynn Daly, spokeswoman for Cancer Research UK, said: “Greig is great advert for life after cancer, an inspiration for anyone going through treatment now and a wonderful figurehead for our Every Moment Counts campaign.”

To follow Greig’s adventure and be inspired by it, visit: www.whenyousurvive.com

23/12/2013 16:28
A special person living a special life.  Good luck.
Inspirational!! To overcome cancer once is life changeling both mentally and physically, but the second time round, wow you are incredible and so so brave, good luck to you Greig,in everything you do , and god bless you ****
23/12/2013 16:51
Good on you Grieg - We all take too much for granted. Materiality accounts for nothing when your own mortality is at stake. Health, family, good friends and a loving relationship (not necessarily in that order) is what is most important. I hope that remission is permanent Grieg and that you have no more illnesses and that you manage to do all that you desire.
23/12/2013 18:23
so happy for you Grieg, that you have survived this awful disease at present my boyfriend who is only 40 has had brain cancer he just got through that and sadly it has spread to his hip i love him dearly and will continue to support him in every way i can please pray for him his name is marc thank you and good luck my darling enjoy yourself as life is too short we have to make the most of itx
23/12/2013 19:01

Cancer is a damn scourge

Hope you get through it OK Greig.

All the best to you.

06/01/2014 01:04
Most couragious gentleman wish you
abundant life  full of happiness following your
dream where you wish to accomplish to
eternity, Agood thinking mind leads to great
health you deserve it. xx

23/12/2013 17:53

Must be nice not to have to work for a living.

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