January 2019 started with me having to stop doing lots of different things. I had been in and out of hospital throughout December and my body had not yet adapted to the first four months of daily chemotherapy for adrenocortical carcinoma. My anti-nausea drugs weren’t working and as a result I was becoming weaker and weaker daily. Eventually, in January, my medical team decided I had to stop. Stop work. Stop running. Stop swimming. Stop doing a lot of the things that I love, in order to focus on getting my treatment stable. And reluctantly I agreed with them.
So if anyone had said to me that I would be starting 2020 with a 230km, 3-day, tandem ride from Bristol to Worcester, via Cardiff and Ross-on-Wye, I’d have told them they were crazy. In early 2019 I couldn’t even stand up on the escalator on the tube in London! But – over the course of a decidedly bumpy ‘19 – things have steadily started to improve.
Yes, I am still on daily chemotherapy tablets and will always be entirely steroid-dependant. I still have hospital admissions (most recently following an adrenal crisis that left me unconscious at the beginning of December). But I have been back at school since September and slowly started rebuilding the fitness that I lost. 5k races turned into 10k and then 10 miles, I got back into the pool and lakes and lidos. Just one thing remained – to get back on the bike. And for this I shall be eternally grateful to Luke and his Bristol2Beijing plan. Like me, Luke is living with cancer – but he doesn’t let it define him. There are far more interesting things in the world than focusing on the minor irritant of cancer; there’s a whole world to explore out there. I may only have joined Luke for a few days but I will be following his adventures with excitement and maybe – if I’m lucky – I’ll be able to fly out and join on the back seat of the tandem for another few days!