It’s been an overwhelming few days, learning so much about myself I felt the need to share. It started a few weeks ago with a phone call from a lady at the Warrington Guardian who told me I’d been nominated for an award and I’d been shortlisted and reached the finals of the Inspirational Awards 2014. Well I nearly dropped the phone. Me? Shortlisted for an award? The tickets for the evening were in the post.

When they arrived they were accompanied by a letter that said if you require additional tickets let us know and it’s recommended you write a speech just in case you are the lucky one who’ll receive the award. After the phone call I thought this is a lot to take in but by the time the letter came I was grateful that they’d nominated me but had resigned myself to no extra tickets or a speech as I had no chance…or so I thought.

The night came and we were seated in the far corner, closet to the bar and toilets. Lethal. The people on our table were lovely and two separate groups were up for Adult Learner of the year and Charity Champion of the year. Neither group were awarded the prize. So, I thought, I’ve been put on the non-winners table in the corner of the room . There were 11 awards that evening and I had no idea which one I was up for so I resigned myself to just enjoying the night. Half way through the evening when Carl (hubby) had nipped to the bathroom, the compare announced that the next award was The Act of Courage and the finalists were…When he said my name I panicked. Carl! He’d gone to the loo. Oh my word this is it. My stomach that had been in knots all day just did a huge summersault. When I listened to what the compare had to say about each of the finalist I knew then that the award wasn’t mine. I mean to me an act of courage is someone who jumps in to save a child from shark-infested waters. Not me.

“And the award for Act of Courage goes to Melanie O’Neill.” I feel sick now just writing about it. I may have memory loss but I remember quite clearly how it felt disbelievingly hearing your name being called out. I was totally and utterly shell shocked. I hugged Carl who had hurriedly returned when he heard my name being called out and that I was up this award. I purposely left my glasses on the table so everyone would be a blur and I’d not see all those faces looking at me. I’d written a speech just in case I had a blank at the most awkward of times but that stayed in my bag as I went up empty handed for my award.

After having my photo taken by the photographer with the sponsor Eddie Stobart’s son I took to the mic and everything I had planned to say vanished. I wanted to talk about how I was honoured to receive such an award and that the other finalists were all worthy of this award. I wanted to mention by best friend Nicola Leadbetter who, because of my illness, had set up organising the Rainbow Ball and made it a yearly thing making thousands for charity. I wanted to talk about my blogs and how they are effortless to me as I just write what I’m thinking and feeling at the time and maybe that’s why people relate to them because they are truthful and real? I did remember to thank Hannah Bargery a reporter from the Guardian, who from day one supported me and my blogging, published one a month and got my picture on the front cover and on the first few pages so many times. I also unintentionally, joked about Carl telling me no one would be interested in my blogs “and look at me now” I joked on the mic. My nerves clearly got the better of me. But what I did not plan, or expect to happen was the crying that started. The outpour of pent up emotions in response to the audiences sigh when I mentioned my husband’s name. All the nerves, fear, worry, anxiety and excitement came out in a flood when I was stood on the stage. I later found out that I had most of the audience in floods of tears too so that didn’t make me feel too bad. After I contained myself I dedicated the award to my husband and kids and what I wanted to say was how they are my inspiration and give me the courage to achieve things on a daily basis. Instead I dedicated it to them and thanked them for their support, through my tears.

Out of the 11 awards given out I was the only one who not only blubbed my way through the speech but balled my eyes out throughout my speech. How embarrassing? After I came off the stage I was whisked away to give an interview for next week’s Warrington Guardian. On returning back to the room I stopped and listened to Christoper Smith, The Sportsperson of the Year’s speech. “When I don’t feel like putting my trainers on I just read one of Melanie O’Neill’s blogs and I quickly change my mind. She inspires me with what she writes. So for any of you that haven’t read her blogs I urge you to go on to and be inspired.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. A total stranger follows my blogs. It was affirmed that other strangers read my blogs too and as I told my friends of this, they affirmed that ladies and men who they knew follow my story. I was approached numerous times during the night by strangers who just wanted to tell me that they follow my blogs and by the end of the night, although slightly drunk, I started to believe in my own abilities. The response on my Facebook account completely blew me away with the amount of well wishes and congratulations from people who said they knew I’d receive the award. Everyone believed in me but me! So what did I learn about myself? That things are going on all the time that you know nothing about. That people I don’t even know have taken an interest in my story and that I teach others by what I write about even though they may not have an illness. To never resign yourself to “it’ll never happen to me” because yes I got cancer but I came home with the award that night. To always believe in yourself and never give up no matter what, even if it doesn’t look promising you never know what’s in store. Oh and never let your nerves get the better of you whilst on stage.