It's bout day! I love bout day. I love this game and everything about it. The skating, the hitting, the hugging, the family that is my league and many more.
This was a very normal bout day and today we were going to play S.W.A.T, one my favourite teams to come up against. So, we all travel down like normal, with bags of food and nervous bellies (no matter how often I play, I am always crazy nervous before.)
The game happened and as expected, was all the fun. We had hugs after and all settled down to watch the next game.
Now this is where my day takes an unexpected turn...
During a hard hitting and fast game, I took a hit to the upper part of my chest, and my God it stung! But that's derby for you – it's full contact and we expect to get hit. I think nothing of this until after the game,
The area is still hurting so I go looking for a bruise. "Ooh, what's that?" I thought. It's a new potato sized lump. It's on my right boob and it's very hard. This wasn't there before the game so after some poking and some thinking, I ask a few teamies to have feel and ask their opinion.
Between us, we decide its a massive, swollen bruise and it will go down in a week or so. Let the day continue as it should.
We watch the next game, and me and Trev settle down to do our usual eating of all the food. Then it's award time... yay! I can't remember all of them, but Trev got Best Jammer. No shocker there, as she has the best footwork - but to my surprise, S.W.A.T award me with MVP. This is my first ever MVP, as I don't jam, I block. After a few happy tears and a couple of photos, it's home time.
Now my story doesn't end here! Fast forward a month... This stupid lump is still there. I have named it Gertrude. I make an appointment with the doctor. Better safe than sorry. So off I go with Trev in tow to get my chest out for a doctor I've never met. Not the most fun afternoon of my life.
One look from the doctor and I'm referred to the Breast Unit. As you can imagine, my brain is now in overdrive. Within a week, I'm at the Breast Unit having tests. I won't go into too many details, but they included a mammogram, ultrasound and biopsy.
I won't lie to you, at this point, I am terrified.
So, I have a lovely doctor doing all these tests. She is very honest with me, and tells me in her opinion, it's bad news but to wait for the results to come back. So I waited - and on November 30th 2015, I got diagnosed with breast cancer.
Now, I am hoping this gets read by many, as it's a real story. I want to get it out there to help others, giving people the confidence to talk about cancer. It was a random hit in a derby game that alerted me to my lump, literally saving my life - and I now encourage everyone to check themselves regularly. Don't fear cancer, face it and fight it head on - as you would the biggest opposition blocker.
My fight continues.
The first thing you need to know about me is that pretty much everything I have tried my whole life, whether it be sport, a hobby, a project or even just reading a book - if the task was too difficult... I quit!
I joined Bath Roller Derby Girls in 2013 without having a clue what it was, but with the sole intention of just wanting to get better at skating. I was persuaded to go by a work colleague, as I would never have gone alone, god forbid!
I joined Fresh Meat, wearing these bad boys:
I felt nervous, unsure, unconfident - and worried so much about what I was wearing at the time. For the next 10 weeks I would wake up feeling like I had been hit by a bus, picking the splinters out of my knees each week from learning knee falls on good old Green Park Station’s wooden floor.
Before Fresh Meat I’d had very little skating experience, but luckily my balance was rather good, so I picked up jamming skills pretty well. I loved to go fast and race other skaters, plus I only had to worry about myself: none of these flat walls, 3-walls, tripods, v-walls etc.
After nearly quitting a few times over, I finally made it to the end of Fresh Meat and just about graduated. My workmate had missed a few sessions, and I really didn’t want to go to training on my own, so I nearly chickened out. As well as this, I was struggling emotionally with the suicide of a close friend, and was honestly a bit of a wreck.
But despite everything, here I was: a brand new, full-time Bath Roller Derby Girl!
Before I knew it I was wearing an inside-out yellow Bath top, with a taped-on number 3 on my back. Desperately trying to keep up with the big girls of my new team, I glanced behind me, only to see a Bristol Jammer skating towards me at speed, like an easy game of “SPOT THE NOOB”. I had no idea what I was doing! But, again, I survived and was left wanting more.
I was now one of the team, playing with the big-girls that I had been looking up to for a while now, and thinking all the time that I want to skate just like them. Next thing I knew, I was told we were going abroad! “Come again now?”
I’ve never really travelled so the thought of going on holiday to Lisbon with my team- mates was such great news! Or so I thought: the realisation hit that there was 1 team, only 14 spaces on the roster and 16 eligible skaters to choose from.
During this time I was suffering from RETAIL WORK, plus ligament damage, which combined meant no free time to make training, and no chance of weekend game practice. I wasn’t too surprised when I didn’t make the cut, but I made the decision to put it behind me there and then: I was getting a holiday abroad! WOO HOO! (As it happens, I forgot my mouth guard on the trip anyways, so was a good job I wasn’t picked in the end, phew!)
Back in Bath, time went on and before I knew it, another Fresh Meat intake appeared. I was overwhelmed at just how many new skaters there were and goddamn they were better than me too! I couldn’t help but feel annoyed: these Freshies had a better hall to train in, it was alright for them! I was a little saddened as I compared myself to others, but seeing how hard they all worked, and how many hours they put in, I was not surprised they overtook me and got straight into the team.
Bath’s B-team was formed, yet I still wanted to aim high. Once again I still didn’t make it onto the A-team, but I was offered a crossover place instead: “best of both worlds” I thought to myself, and finally was able to get the skating experience I was so in need of. And boy did it pay off! I was going to more training than I ever had before; I even gave up my job to be able to fit it into my life. I was voted in as Captain and was beginning to find my place with in Bath Roller Derby Girls. I even got picked to play in our first British Champs tournament game.
British Champs Finals rolled around, and as I sat at the trackside waiting for our game, an overwhelming fear hit me like a hard fist to the chest. My good old skating buddy talked me out of it, wiped my tears away and pushed my arse on to track. She didn’t take no for an answer and it was a good job too, as I played my best ever game against one of the hardest teams we have ever faced. I got NO penalties, won best jammer and was still in one piece! I was on such a high!
It was going so well, until ligament pain struck AGAIN, then a mysterious lump appeared under my rib as well. I was told (wrongly) that it was a hernia. On top of that, my on-track partner in crime was diagnosed with cancer, and my world felt like it was falling apart. To top it all, I was later diagnosed with Vertigo. All this time spent in and out of hospital being told I can’t skate, I kept worrying “how was I going to get better for my team now? I might as well just give up.”
But what I have discovered in the last year is that you don’t have to go it alone. It’s called a Roller Derby TEAM for a reason. And my sidekick was never going to let me quit that easily. She carried on through her evil ordeal and simply told me, “come on Trev, keep up: if I can do it then so can you!” And so I pushed on through. I kept working hard, she was some sort of super-human. And here I am, back on skates - still wheeling around like Trevlock Holmes with Watson at my side.
And now I have skaters looking up to me. It took a lot of hard work, an un-countable amount of falling down and having to get back up, but I still feel that my biggest achievement through all of this was keeping a positive outlook. Things can look really shit, and it can be so easy to quit. I really wasn’t lying when I said I’m a quitter. It’s just that for me, Roller Derby is something else. Something pretty special.
Photo credit: Graeme Willetts
This blog is regularly updated with all the goings on of Bath Roller Derby!