London to Paris you say … by bicycle?

My true love has always been cycling, from when I was a young lad bombing about on a “chopper” or my Raleigh “chico”, to riding a BMX in the 1980’s, before moving on to mountain bikes in the 1990’s. I have always watched the cycling whenever it has been on TV, I remember watching Robert Millar and Stephen Roche in the late 1980’s when they were riding bikes that looked just like mine. They were winning the big races of the time, along with Sean Kelly and the other big names in the sport.

The Tour de France was always the race to watch back then with the iconic finish along the Champs-Elysées. But who’d have thought that many years later I would be contemplating doing the same thing.

The London to Paris bike ride has grown in stature and now sits as one of the great cycle experiences in Europe. This ride has grown from a few cycling enthusiasts to organised rides taking place almost every week, many of them to raise money for charity. It had become a challenge that I want to complete and I now had the motivation to do so, the fight against cancer.

The distances I will cycle are fairly long, varying from 90 – 145km per day; I have had to make sure that I am fit enough to manage these distances. The first day cycling from London to Dover will be particularly strenuous with some tough climbs.

These challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. I am in my 40’s and have not kept myself in the best of shape as my footballing days are long behind me. But I have been training hard to achieve this challenge and now regularly cycle over 200km a week in preparation. The challenge is designed so that everyone can go at their own pace: thankfully it is not a race and I for one will be pleased to complete it. It will give me a real sense of achievement and all for a great cause in supporting Macmillan Cancer Support.

Departure day is rapidly approaching, the challenge starts on the 2nd July and I will cycle through the Parisian streets, sweeping around the Arc de Triomphe and down the famed Champs-Elysées to our finish beneath the lofty arches of the Eiffel Tower.

I know that this challenge will leave me in a whole new world of pain and it will be a challenge.

Feelings of excitement and nervousness are now starting to bite as the event gets ever closer, just 6 weeks away but I have complete faith in myself. I know I can do this. I will make it to Paris on two wheels!


Why get involved with Macmillan Cancer Support?

I suspect that I, like many people, have been happy to make my monthly contributions to various charities, my Direct Debits would be taken every month and then I would not have to think about my contribution anymore, all very simple.

But I have had this nagging feeling for some time that I could and should be doing more, but what and for who was always a question that I found difficult to answer.

For some years now I have worked in the world of personal injury, in particular those suffering from occupational disease. As part of my normal working life I come across those who are suffering from various forms of illness and disease, often caused through years of exposure to harmful substances and materials. Many of those who I act for had no idea of the dangers they were being exposed to and it is only, many years later on that they start to suffer from their illness.

This is where cancer rears its ugly head. Perhaps, the most high profile of those cancers, which can be caused through past employment, is mesothelioma.

In the UK about 2500 people a year are diagnosed with mesothelioma with exposure to asbestos being responsible for up to 9 out of 10 mesothelioma cases. It can take many years after being exposed to asbestos for mesothelioma to occur. The length of time taken is usually between 15-45 years.

Currently there is no cure for mesothelioma but much can be done to lessen the impact of the symptoms caused by this cruel disease. A multidisciplinary approach would be used – through your GP, Macmillan nurse or hospital Consultant.

During the course of 2013 my last surviving grandparent, my nan, was diagnosed as suffering from cancer. After a lengthy fight, she sadly passed away.

It was during this period that I found out that my granddad had died from cancer as well. He was a cabinet maker and had made the wooden panelling that was used extensively on the London Underground, hidden behind which were asbestos panels that he may well have fitted. I never found out if he died from Mesothelioma but it seems a real possibility that this was the case.

My nan had left clear instructions that if we wanted to do something, then a donation should be made to Cancer Research but I did not just want to make another donation, I wanted to do something more to help in the fight against this cruel disease.

A common theme through all cancer cases that I have come across are the Macmillan nurses. Macmillan nurses specialise in cancer and palliative care, providing support and information to people with cancer, their families, friends and carers, from the point of diagnosis onwards. One in three of us will get cancer and it’s the toughest thing most of us will ever face. When diagnosed with cancer, Macmillan Cancer Support are that team of people in your corner supporting you every step of the way. They had helped support my nan too.

So, decision made, with the approval of my family, I would not make a donation to Cancer Research, I would do something for Macmillan Cancer Support, but what?

Cancer in Hertfordshire

More than two million people are living with or beyond cancer in the UK today. This figure will rise to four million by 2030.

889 people everyday hear that they have cancer. It’s so easy to assume it will never be you but there is a 1/2 chance it will be at some point.

Every day 14 people in Hertfordshire hear the devastating news they have cancer, and seven people die from the illness. This will see Hertfordshire’s population of people living with cancer more than double between 2010 and 2030.

During 2013 1,246 people in Hertfordshire called the Macmillan Support Line.

During 2013£852,782 in unclaimed benefits was identified for local people by the Macmillan Support Line.

During 2013381 people received Macmillan Grants totalling over £108,000.

Currently in East and North Hertfordshire, people affected by cancer are receiving fragmented support and care. This is because cancer services do not always have the capacity to meet everyone’s needs, or patients and carers often have to travel to different hospital sites to receive the specialist services they need.

That’s why Macmillans commitment to invest £1.5 million in the design and building of a new Macmillan cancer centre at the Lister hospital in Stevenage is so important. Set to be completed by June 2014, and also funded by a £1.5 million donation from East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, it will be a pioneering facility that provides local people affected by cancer with the care and support they need throughout their cancer journeys.

This new development is a fantastic opportunity for the people of East and North Hertfordshire to benefit from improved services in the region.

Cancer can be such a cruel disease. Lets make sure that nobody has to face cancer alone.

Lister Macmillan Cancer Centre

Every Year, 1,500 people in East and North Hertfordshire are told that they have cancer and over 10,000 will need treatment.

The oversubscribed facilities at the Lister Hospital in Stevenage currently do not always allow their outstanding staff to treat everyone, with some patients having to travel to another of the Trust’s hospitals for their treatment.

The unit is being completely redesigned and rebuilt to give the staff a chance to meet the challenges of maintaining a complex and high quality service, now and for the future.


And we need your help to do it.