Stevie Douglas didn’t need too many excuses to go to interactive experience Alien Wars when it started in Glasgow three years ago, but he had a better reason than most - it was helping him stay alive.
Rutherglen man Stevie was diagnosed with germ cell sarcoma, a rare form of testicular cancer, around the same time and was told his body wasn’t producing enough adrenalin.
But Stevie, who is a massive fan of the Alien film series, knew exactly how to get his blood pumping.
“I’m a big fan of the movies,” he says. “I collect memorabilia from the films and I used to go to Alien Wars quite a lot when it was here; I lost count of how many times.
“When I was diagnosed I used to go once or twice a week to get my adrenalin pumping.
“I also went into a bit of a depression and my doctor sent me to counselling. The girl told me to visualise beating my cancer so when I used to run around at Alien Wars I would visualise me shooting bits off my tumour.
“I know that sounds mad but I still do it now.”
Three years later and Stevie, whose heart actually stopped during treatment, still suffers from cancer and he still regularly attends Alien Wars, now called Alien Apocalypse – only this time as part of the cast.
His frequent visits didn’t go unnoticed and led to the creator of the experience, Gary Gillies, offering him a vital role in the show.
Alien Apocalypse, which is on it’s final ever run, is an interactive experience based on the film series. Characters, including Stevie’s Corporal Steele, are charged with getting everyone through an area that is populated with the deadly creatures.
Taking place in Glasgow’s The Arches venue, the show has become a real hit with sci-fi fans and thrill seekers.
Self-confessed geek Stevie describes it as his “dream job” but admits it all gets a little too much for some people. “I had one guy pull his rosary beads out on me and he starting saying the Alien was the spawn of Satan,” he said.
“I’d got to know everyone and Gary Gillies asked me if I wanted a part. I’d dipped my toe in acting before.
“At first I was helping build the set but then a part came up for me. I can’t give too much away but it’s an integral part of the show.
“It’s great fun and a real challenge. It can be very physical and there is a lot of running around but when you see people having a good time it’s great.
“It’s difficult to explain what it is without seeing it. Imagine the movie but instead of watching it you’re right in the middle of it.”
When not battling aliens Stevie, who is a youth worker at Universal Connections, faces a much tougher foe. His life changed forever when a tumour was found on his spine, attached to his stomach.
What followed was a living hell as he underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the Beatson in Glasgow. But the tumour remained and now he simply has to live with it.
“The doctors did what they could but it came to a point where everything stabilised,” he says. “They sort of got the tumour into a holding pattern without actually taking it out. I need to go once a month now to get it checked.
“They said at the moment I’ve got to live with it unless something else comes up, but on the plus side it’s not getting any bigger.
“They don’t want to take it out. Because it’s on my spine one slip could leave me without the use of my legs.
“Sometimes the pain can be excruciating though.”
One of the worst experiences for Stevie was the actual treatement which took such a toll on him the doctors were forced to stop.
“Chemo doesn’t just attack the tumour but the healthy cells as well. It caused my immune system to crash and I often had to go into isolation for three weeks with only doctors allowed in to see me.
“Eventually they had to quit the chemo because it was doing more harm than good.”
But while his cancer is still here, Alien Apocalypse has given Stevie a new lease of life. He’s also rediscovered his love of acting, even grabbing a part in a Quantas advert.
Looking back, he says: “There were times when getting chemo I simply didn’t want to wake up.
“They had to re-start my heart a couple of times and I wondered if I wanted to keep going.
“It was like a nightmare but Alien Wars gave me something to focus on.”