Candid With Cancer #8 – My Second Cancer Diagnosis
Thomas Ashley details his battle against AML as part of a new weekly blog
An intrepid team of Cure Leukaemia cyclists, including a trio who have previously fought the disease, overcame gale-force winds and torrential conditions to ride from London to Paris and raise over £100,000 for the charity.
‘Team Revolution’ completed the 500km journey over four days during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, defying 50mph winds which threw the ride into jeopardy on day two, and the torrential rain as they rode into Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower on the final day.
The 80-strong team included Cure Leukaemia patron and former Wolves, Crystal Palace and England footballer Geoff Thomas, who has beaten blood cancer after being diagnosed with leukaemia in 2003, and has since completed many similar cycling challenges for the charity.
And two more recent leukaemia patients Mark Nicholas and Jenna Ostrowski, in remission having only completed their treatment a few months previously, inspired the whole team by completing the ride and contributing thousands of pounds to the overall total. To view photos from the 4 days click HERE
“This was another hugely successful event for Cure Leukaemia, and one of the most challenging London 2 Paris rides I have ever taken part in,” says Geoff.
“Cycling through weather conditions which I’ve never previously experienced on a bike certainly added to the challenge, but it also created a fantastic spirit and camaraderie among a team of differing abilities on two wheels.
“Mark and Jenna, in particular, were truly inspiring to all of us in how, just a few months after coming through such gruelling treatment, they covered all 500 kilometres with such courage and dedication.
“Although I have rolled into Paris many times before on different cycling challenges, I will never tire of that feeling when the Eiffel Tower comes into view, at the end of another special few days spent with so many fantastic people.”
Jenna, 34, who lives in Moseley in Birmingham, was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukaemia in July of last year, and the funds raised by her and partner Matt Greenaway on the cycle ride have taken her total amount raised for Cure Leukaemia over £25,000.
She said: “It was a terrific event which was incredibly well organised and put together, from the mechanics and sports therapists through to the guys responsible for feeding us copious energy powders, sweets and carbs, together with every single cheerleader and participant who took part.
“I’d trained really hard for the event so close to finishing chemotherapy and seeing our fundraising going up and reach over £8,200 made it all worthwhile.
“I will never forget the way I felt cycling up to the Eiffel Tower in Paris and that fantastic feeling of crossing the finish line, next to my amazing partner Matt and fellow former patients Mark and Geoff.
“Finishing London 2 Paris embodied so much more than completing a bike ride for me, it symbolised that I was alive and my body was able to complete such a physically demanding challenge which felt brilliant.
“This meant the world to me and Matt, without whom I wouldn’t have been able to do it.
“I’d also like to add that if it wasn’t for the amazing doctors and nurses at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, I wouldn’t be here and I certainly wouldn’t have been able to cycle to Paris so I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart.”
Mark, 48, a freelance IT consultant from Kenilworth, was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia in May of 2016, and is now in remission after undergoing a stem cell transplant last October.
The ‘Marco’s Tour De Cure’ team made up of friends and colleagues has raised almost £20,000 from the L2P ride.
Mark said: “What a fantastic experience and a fantastic event.
“It was a phenomenal trip and everything about the organisation was spot on, even down to the numbers riding which meant we were able to get to know everyone involved.
“We were so well looked after and protected and the ride captains were unbelievable – we were all made to feel quite special in the way we were looked after.
“Riding into Paris was certainly an emotional experience for me, although slightly wet given the biblical conditions as we headed for the Eiffel Tower!
“And I have to admit that I very quickly had to go and sit in one of the support vehicles for ten minutes or so at the finish line to warm up again.
“It was great to do it with some close friends and colleagues with Marco’s Tour De Cure and they made sure they looked after me throughout the four days.
“It was also an incredible experience to be able to ride with both Geoff and Jenna, who were a massive inspiration to everyone in the group.
“It took me a few days to recover afterwards but having done this event, and also the Velo last year, I think it’s fair to say I will probably be getting back in the saddle again next year!”
The finale of the event was followed a celebratory dinner on the last night at which congratulatory video messages were played from one of Cure Leukaemia’s founders Professor Charlie Craddock CBE, and Watford and England goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Both Charlie and Ben have previously completed the L2P ride and were disappointed that other engagements meant they were unable to join in this year’s event.
“Those messages provided the perfect end to another memorable few days cycling from London to Paris with Team Revolution,” said Cure Leukaemia CEO James McLaughlin.
“The conditions were horrific at times, especially the strong winds on the second day which were tough enough for the experienced cyclists in the team, let alone the rest of us!
“But I am proud of how everyone kept going and pushed each other on to battle through it, in the process raising such a fantastic amount of money which will have such a positive impact on the work of Cure Leukaemia.
“The event was such a success that we have already scheduled to do it all over again next year, with dates already secured from September 12th to 15th.
“I would encourage all who took part, and indeed anyone else keen to take on this fantastic challenge, to get in touch with us to register their interest as we finalise all the details to be announced shortly.”
*Anyone who wants to register an interest in the return of L2P for 2019 is asked to email Georgia@cureleukaemia.co.uk
Watch the parody music video which was created during the ride by Cyclevox below: