Wasn’t sure whether to write this or not as it is a personal matter and one that I have never had to share before. You see, when I entered the Dragon Ride for June it was my best attempt to stick two fingers up at getting older and to have something that played on my mind when I was eating a bacon sandwich, skipping a ride or standing on the scales on a Monday morning.
As usual, as part of the entry I was encouraged to raise money for a charity and although I can be quite selfish and usually skip those screens, I decided on this occasion I should select MacMillan Cancer Support, especially as my Dad was undergoing tests at the hospital for suspected Lymphoma. So that’s what I did. About a month after writing the post I then received a phone call from him to tell me he had been declared Lymphoma free and in fact was suffering with a bad chest infection. This was made worse by cement on his lungs (a contaminate from earlier knee replacement surgery). His relief at not facing chemotherapy made me suddenly realise how much he had been concerned about it. It was the first time in my life that I had consciously thought about my Dad dieing.
Then he did. The bad cough and infection turned into another stay in the hospital and then a chest infection turned into both an acute and very rare form of pneumonia. From kissing my tired Dad on the cheek on the Tuesday evening and telling him that I love him, I found myself on the Thursday stood by his bedside with only machines keeping his body alive, knowing I would never be able to speak to him again. I’ll spare you the details, but as I am sure you can imagine it caused more than just a re-boot of my brain. He died at 4.30pm on Friday 25th November 2016 – or alternatively the worst day of my life.
So now the Dragon Ride represents more than just a token of support to a charity that may have helped my father, my mother and does help many many other people that have suffered at the hands of cancer. I will continue to ride for MacMillan and not just because it turned out that my Dad did indeed have Lymphoma, but because I need to do something positive for someone else now and that is me. I need to do the ride because it’s bloody hard. I need to push myself through new levels of pain in the training because I actually want to feel that pain. I want to feel that emotional collapse as I get off the treadmill and I want to use it as the step that gets me back onto the bike the next time.
Ultimately, I need to stop making excuses about the better things there are to do than cycle up and down mountains and instead celebrate being alive and well. I need to make sure that eating a bacon sandwich isn’t the reason I look after my body, but is the odd reward because I do.
And most of all, I want to know that when that day comes for someone to turn off my machine, to say goodbye and to utter their last words of love to me. That they do so to a man that in his own little way made them proud and didn’t sit around on his arse all day watching other people live their life.
I’ll let you know how I get on.