Welcome

Welcome to Cycling for Cancer

First, a huge welcome. Whether you are a reader who has migrated from my first blog or completely new, I am delighted to see you here.

As I mentioned on the About Me page, I was diagnosed with womb cancer in March 2019. I had had symptoms for a while, I just didn’t know they were symptoms of a tumour growing inside my womb. And since I was blissfully aware of the potential diagnosis, by the time I saw my doctor, the cancer was already at stage III. This meant it had spread from its original location in the womb to some nearby lymph nodes, but it hadn’t yet spread to any other organs.

When womb cancer is diagnosed at stage I, the survival rate is over 90%. These are pretty good odds. However, when it has proceeded to stage III, the odds are down to 50%, and at stage IV, only 15%. So early diagnosis (like with any type of cancer) saves lives. Finding out about these percentages spurred me to spread awareness of womb cancer, which is why I started my first blog. I wanted to tell everyone about the symptoms so more women would seek medical advice sooner rather than later. My next post will focus on the symptoms and when you should see your doctor.

Another focus for my blog is to raise awareness of Lynch syndrome. It is estimated that around 1 in 300 people might be carriers of the inherited genetic mutation associated with the syndrome. I am one of those people. As are my mother and sister. Being a carrier increases your risk of certain types of cancers, including womb and colorectal cancers. However, it doesn’t mean that you will definitely develop cancer.

Consider my mother, for example. She is a carrier and has never developed cancer. Neither did either of her parents, one of whom must have been a carrier. Both of her parents lived into their early nineties and died of other causes.

In some ways, knowing that you have a faulty gene is a positive thing. As they say, knowledge is power. It means that we will have regular colonoscopies so any signs of colorectal cancer can be detected early. I will write about Lynch syndrome in more detail in a later post.

Following my womb cancer diagnosis, I took a very close look at my lifestyle. Why was I the first person in my family to develop cancer?

When I looked at habits that may increase your risk of developing cancer, I ticked almost every box. Combine my unhealthy habits with the faulty gene and I’m not surprised I got cancer. Since my diagnosis, I have made some major lifestyle changes. I might be at a higher risk because of Lynch syndrome, but I’m sure as hell going to do everything in my power to protect myself from another attack of cancer.

In many ways, the diagnosis changed my life for better. I now have more purpose in my life and thanks to those lifestyle changes (which I will focus on in a later post), I feel much better and healthier.

Now some good news and some bad news. Let’s start with the bad news. The harsh fact is that one in two people will develop cancer at some point in their life. The good news is that thanks to research the overall survival rate in the UK has doubled in the last 40 years (from 25% to 50%, source Cancer Research UK). This is why I want to raise funds so I can support this life-saving research.

There are many worthy recipients of fundraising for cancer, but I picked The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity for personal reasons. After I’d had my hysterectomy at the St George’s hospital in Tooting, London, I received my follow-up treatments at The Royal Marsden in Chelsea.

My follow-up treatments comprised six courses of chemotherapy, followed by 25 rounds of radiotherapy, and to top it all off, two sessions of brachytherapy (internal radiotherapy). I received, and still do when I go back for my check-ups, amazing and thorough care from a dedicated team of doctors and nurses.

I know there are other ways to raise money for the charity, such as the Marsden March, which I will (provided that in can go ahead) take part in in September together with a group of amazing women including my sister. However, I wanted to do something more to express my gratitude and support the research and patient care. Hence, the epic ride across Europe.

The proposed route

We haven’t worked out the total distance yet as it will depend on the exact route we take, but we are looking at at least 5,500 kilometres. We will start from Norway and finish in Spain. There will be posts consider different route options coming up.

I am excited and worried about the ride in equal measure. It is exciting to raise funds, to see so many new places, and to meet lots of people along the way. But I do worry about all the hills. There will be so much climbing! Justin will have no trouble. He is a keen cyclist and has completed the London to Brighton ride several times. He has also done the London to Paris ride. Maybe we will bring a rope so he can pull me behind him up the biggest climbs.

The truth is, I have a huge amount of work to do before the start date in August 2021. I definitely need to get in some serious hill training to build my strength and stamina. First, I will need a proper bike. I currently get around on a Santander hire bike. They are great and really convenient, but not exactly made for hill climbing. After next week, which is the last week of school and I’m still occupied with the virtual classroom, I will start taking some bikes for a test ride. Look out for a post on which bikes I tested and which were the best ones.

You can also look out for updates our training progress and preparation here so you will be able to decide for yourselves if we will need to bring that tow rope with us or not.

I hope you have enjoyed my welcome post and I hope to see you back soon and often. You can sign up for email alerts for new posts here and that way you will not miss out on any posts.

Until next time.

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Here’s what you can do next to help me raise awareness and more money for the charity.

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