In April 2018 Colin ‘Jango’ Fleming became ill and was diagnosed with having a high risk form of Acute Myeloid Leukaemia. (AML). While in St James Hospital Dublin he underwent 3 rounds of chemotherapy and he was advised because his disease was high risk he would have to have a bone marrow transplant. An unrelated match was found but with just two weeks to go he was given the devastating news that his leukaemia had relapsed. As well as being back in his bone marrow it was also in his central nervous system, affecting his sight and speech.
He has given 3 options by his doctors, do nothing and have a couple of weeks to live, have palliative chemo and get 4/5 weeks or go ahead with the transplant but only a 1-5% chance of it working. After much thought and discussion with family he opted for the palliative chemo so as to have that quality time with his family.
How do you tell your children you only have weeks left to live…..
Annie and Jack were 3 and 1 year old at the time so they would not understand but he dreaded the thoughts of going home to tell his 5 year old son Charlie the news.
The relapse happened towards the end of August and despite the mental and physical struggles Colin still thought of others and how he could give something back. He had been an Electric Picnic goer for a number of years, his wife Schalan always bought his ticket for him and he wanted to use this ticket to raise money for a charity that could help children suffering from cancer and in particular a young Wexford boy, Joseph Masterson. Aoibheann’s Pink Tie was his chosen charity. His sister Janet set up an everyday hero page where everyone who made a donation would be in with a chance of winning his 3 day camping ticket. The response was phenomenal and he watched over a number of days the donations rolling in. People’s generosity was amazing. Colin decided after the raffle to keep the page open until after he had died and that his kids would present to final sum to Aiobheann’s Pink Tie.
People were inspired but his selflessness, his strength and determination in spite of everything that was being thrown in front of him.
The Gorey and Coolgreany communities, local businesses, sports teams all rallied to support #teamjango and raise money for Aiobheann’s pink tie and that continued through to November.
Gorey Rangers soccer club paid tribute to Colin in October, where Colin had been secretary, treasurer and more recently coach to the under 12’s by renaming their underage academy the Colin ‘Jango’ Fleming Academy.
2018 has been an emotional rollercoaster. Colin had mentally prepared himself to die. He had organised his funeral down to the details of which friends would carry his coffin. It was a reality he had accepted and was ready to die. He used a journal to write down feelings, thoughts and struggles to help himself through his journey. He kept positive and his faith in God. He set himself little short goals such as getting to the races for a day, Ireland soccer games, a game of poker, family trip to the zoo. Appreciate the small things.
He returned home the end of August after the palliative chemo but after only a few days things took a turn for the worst, he was taken by ambulance back to James hospital and was told he only had days to live. His wife Schalan never left him and his family and close friends took turns sleeping by his side. He didn’t want to die alone. Gradually after a couple of weeks things started to improve and it looked as if the palliative chemo was finally doing what it was supposed to, giving him quality time with family. Colin decided to return home to Gorey.
During October and November things looked to be improving, his blood remained clear of leukaemia. The doctors were amazed at such a turnaround and how well Colin was looking. He continued to set himself small goals, remained positive and appreciated the little things in life.
The beginning of November he was able to present a cheque for 30,700 euro to Aoibheann’s Pink Tie to one of the founders, Mick Rochford, who confirmed that some of that money would be used towards the annual dream come through Christmas party they hold for the sick children. He thanked his family, friends, his community and local businesses in helping him with his fundraising, but said ‘now he needs to concentrate on his health’.
He was able to build himself back up, undergo an additional round of chemo and get himself back in remission. He had his bone marrow transplant on the 19th December 2018 and remains in St James hospital or close to for the next couple of months. He is staying positive, taking one day at a time. It’s tough being away from his kids, especially at Christmas but he is focused on what he needs to do in order to have a future with them.
He has touched many people, those who know him and those who don’t. He has been contacted by others suffering from serious illnesses for advice and information on what helped him to keep strong both mentally and physically. Children have also been inspired by his strength and positivity; he recently received a beautiful letter along with an essay that child had written which was inspired by his story.
His wife Schalan who has been by his side this whole time, his rock, in November and December also raised over 7,000 euro for the Bone Marrow Trust. This charity among other things, provide apartments to those who after transplant need to be within close proximity of the hospital but don’t live locally.
Jango received the South East Radio Talbot Hotel Outstanding Achievement Award in the quietness of South East Radio presenter, Dave Redmond’s front sitting room. There was no big cheer or fan fair as there was no need for it. Jango is a humble, unassuming man.
He was deeply honoured to receive this award and said he is grateful for the things he has in his life. He is a truly inspirational winner, through such sickness, personal struggle and mental strain, he still thought of others. The more you give the more you receive back.