A Lutton Navy veteran threw a special party last week to mark 25 years of living with a brain tumour and raised over £700 for the hospital that’s helped him do it.
Despite a doctor telling him in 1994 he might not live for five more years, Paul Sayers (58) remains a Long Sutton parish councillor, on the St Mary’s Church Council and was last week re-elected as the vice chair of the Royal Naval Association in Spalding.
He’d planned last Saturday’s party at St Mary’s Church Hall for months and was overwhelmed that around 100 people turned up.
Though it wasn’t a fundraising event, through a raffle and donations £703 was raised to donate to the Addenbrookes Charitable Trust where Paul says he’s received “very good” treatment.
“It was a very good night,” Paul said from his Villa Close home. “We had no idea how many people would attend.
“I was really pleased and it was lovely to see so many friends.
“The traders in Long Sutton were very kind and donated some lovely raffle prizes.”
Born in Terrington, but having moved to Long Sutton while young, he’d been inspired to go into the Navy by elder brother Andrew who sadly passed away in 2008 after a battle with cancer of the oesophagus.
Paul started as a junior engineer, rising up to the ranks of engineering artificer and Chief Petty Officer.
He fought in the Falklands conflict and was stationed in Gibraltar for a number of years. He said: “It would be easier to tell you where in the world I haven’t been.”
It was on Valentine’s Day in 1994 aboard HMS Portsmouth that Paul first realised something was wrong as he blacked out while eating a Kit Kat.
Paul remembers he was tying his laces up when he was told that he had a brain tumour after initially undergoing tests for epilepsy.
“I asked the doctor how long I had,” said Paul. “He told me I might be sitting there in five years time, but I might not.
“I wasn’t particularly concerned at the time.”
Radiotherapy in 1997 abated the tumour for 11 years.
Paul also went through a debulking operation on his brain, while still awake.
He describes that procedure while his head was in a vice as “like hearing that machine that cuts up the road in my head”.
Further bouts of chemotherapy began in 2013 and a second tumour was found in his brain in 2017.
Paul was told in 2018 he was too ill for more chemotherapy, but he continues to battle on.
Four years ago he joined Holbeach band and learned to play the clarinet.
One bout of chemotherapy led to him forgetting how to read music, but he’s back learning and says he’s getting closer to the level he was at previously.
Paul had wanted to play ‘Happy Birthday’ to the tumour at last week’s party but couldn’t find the sheet music online.
He credits his religion and Naval history as large reasons for how he’s continued on.
“God has played a very big part in it and going to church plays a big part in my life,” he said. “My seizures are less frequent now but when I have them I say The Lord’s Prayer and almost every time, by the time I’ve done the prayer I’m out of the seizure.
“My naval background has helped enormously.
“In the Navy if your ship can’t stay afloat you have to carry on.”
Paul has also been able to see his family grow up and he’s now both a father and grandfather to three.
He’s also built up a friendship with Sandra Deacon-Billington through the church and she provides help and support.
“I think he’s a marvel,” she said.
“Despite everything that’s happened to him he doesn’t let it stop him from doing anything.”