A KENDAL rapper and cancer patient – whose YouTube channel has been viewed nearly 25,000 times – is backing Cancer Research UK’s campaign for World Cancer Day and urging everyone to wear the charity’s Unity Band on February 4.
Scott Merriman, 30, was diagnosed with leukaemia in December 2016, just weeks before his mum was told she had terminal lung cancer.
The fitness enthusiast first thought he’d pulled a muscle when he felt pain in his shoulder after lifting weights at the gym, where he was training up to six days a week.
But the soreness refused to go away and after several appointments with his doctor, Scott was referred to Westmorland General Hospital for urgent blood tests.
Just days later he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia – a form of blood cancer that occurs when the bone marrow produces white blood cells that do not work properly.
Scott said: “Nothing can prepare you for the moment the doctor says the words ‘it’s cancer’. I’d never even heard of leukaemia and certainly didn’t think something like this could happen to someone like me. I was eating well and going to the gym regularly, so it was all such a huge shock.”
Looking back, Scott says he had other symptoms he had missed at the time.
He said: “When I learned about some of the symptoms of the disease like tiredness, weight loss and bruising, I realised I’d been experiencing them all, but had explained them away.”
Scott had two bone marrow biopsies at hospital in Lancaster and was prescribed a chemotherapy drug called dasatinib, which he remains on today.
Unfortunately, just two months into his own treatment, Scott’s family received more bad news when his mum Gail was told she had terminal lung cancer in February 2017.
Scott said: “Doctors at the time said she had only weeks to live so dealing with that at the same time as my own diagnosis was a huge mental battle.
“But she was unbelievable at handling it, she would often have little mini parties in her hospice room – she was such a brave and fun woman.”
Scott’s mum Gail sadly died in December 2017.
He said: “I sat with her all night long and it made me realise how positivity really does help in the darkest times. I remember thinking how peaceful it was and how inspiring she was.”
Days before his mum passed away, Scott proposed to his partner Joanna, age 24. They tied the knot at New House Farm in the Lake District in June last year and are now enjoying married life.
Scott said: “We had the most amazing wedding day, filled with so much love and happiness. It was sad that my mum wasn’t there to celebrate with us, but I know she would have been incredibly proud.”
Scott is currently in the maintenance phase of his treatment and says a huge part of feeling back to normal has been getting back to the gym – and also following his dream of recording an album of rap music.
Two months after his diagnosis, Scott started a YouTube channel called ‘The Leukemia Lad’ where he shares videos about his cancer journey. His page has been viewed nearly 25,000 times by people right across the world.
He has made over a hundred videos on a variety of topics – from filming gym workouts during cancer treatment to introducing his cancer medication, which he calls his ‘staying alive pills’.
More recently, Scott has branched out in rapping about cancer on the platform and has uploaded a range of tracks onto his channel including his Christmas song ‘Still Here’ and a motivational track called ‘Stand Up’.
He will release his first album called ‘Borrowed Time’ in late January which will be available on major streaming services including Spotify and Google Music. The album has been recorded at the Heavy Rain Sound Studio at Castle Mills, Kendal.
Scott said: “Listen to the words of the tracks, and you’ll hear how the lyrics tell my story. Music is my passion and has always been my place of refuge. I listen to it music every day because it helps me relax and takes me to a different place.
“You don’t have to have cancer to get something from my music. But if it inspires other people to talk about the disease and raise their awareness, that can only be a positive thing.”
Scott is passionate about raising awareness of cancer and is keen to show how research into cancer helps develop treatments for people like him.
He said: “I feel like I’ve been given a second chance and I want to make the most of life by making every moment count. That includes helping to raise vital awareness and funds. It’s thanks to research I’m still here today, enjoying doing all the things that are so dear to me.”
To show his support for World Cancer Day, Scott is wearing a selection of brightly coloured wristbands to show solidarity with other people diagnosed with cancer.
The Unity Band is available in three different colours – pink, navy and blue. It can be worn in memory of a loved one, to celebrate people who’ve overcome cancer or in support of those going through treatment.
Every hour, around 5 people are diagnosed with the disease in the North West.*
By making a donation for a Unity Band, people across Cumbria will be raising money for life-saving research which will help give people, like Scott, more precious time with their loved ones.
He said: “I want everyone in Cumbria to show their support on World Cancer Day and help Cancer Research UK to tackle this devastating disease. Just by wearing a Unity Band we can all make a real difference to people with cancer.”
World Cancer Day is an international movement, uniting people around the world on 4 February to beat cancer.
In the UK, one in two people will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime**.
The good news is, thanks to research, more people are surviving than ever before. Survival has doubled in the last 40 years in the UK and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress.
But there is still so much more work to do. That’s why this World Cancer Day, the charity is calling on everyone to raise money to help accelerate progress and save more lives.
Anna Taylor, Cancer Research UK spokesperson for Cumbria, said: “We are so grateful to Scott for his amazing support and showing how important it is for everyone to wear a Unity Band on World Cancer Day.
“Our research has played a role in developing 8 of the world’s top 10 cancer drugs and we’re working every day to find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat the disease. But we can’t do it alone.
“By making a donation of just £2 for a Unity Band, people in Cumbria will be funding world-class research to help more people, like Scott, survive. Together, we will beat cancer.”
To get a Unity Band and make a donation, go online at cruk.org/worldcancerday