I did it!! London to Paris 2022

I am soooo happy to say that after 18 months of training and 2 postponements, I finally completed London to Paris on a bike!

And wow what an experience it was too! 125 riders including 12 patients, 43 family and friends and 70 pharmaceutical employees. I can’t begin to explain just how humbling it was to see the swathes of orange myeloma shirts as you cycled out of London to begin on this epic adventure. That knowledge that EVERYONE riding was raising money to make a difference to my life and the life of other myeloma patients and families. Such an amazing feeling and I cried a number of times that first day as I cycled.

The peleton!

I met so many amazing people on this ride. I’ve spent the last 13 years since I was diagnosed, often quite self focused on MY myeloma and how it has impacted my life. Of course there have been other patients along the way (a number of whom I was riding in memory of), but during this period of five days, I heard the full journeys of 11 other patients. People who had been told they’d never ride again…but were riding with me. People who had broken bones in places you’d never imagine. People who had been so very ill. It was grounding in a way I can’t explain. Please don’t call me inspirational any more (not that I ever particularly related to the label!) – my journey has been nothing in comparison to some of these amazing folk.

The 12 – patients cycling for Myeloma UK

It’s really quite difficult to explain why this ride was so amazing but all I can say is that if you have any affinity to Myeloma UK, it is the ride to do to get to Paris. The organisation is impeccable both by the charity and by Discover Adventure who ran the trip. The support crew is cheery, knowledgeable and totally spot on. The friendships you make are likely to be long term. The experience like no other. By the end of day one I wanted to do it again next year! By the end of day four, I still really wished I could!!

I also feel very lucky to have spent those days cycling with my fab niece Flis. I know how much I love my family, and I know how lucky I am to have such a big, caring family. But being so big, when we do all get together, there is often the downside that you feel that you only get short bursts with anyone. I think I spent longer speaking to her in five days than I’ve ever had the privilege to, in her whole lifetime! She was truly amazing and so lovely to be with. What many people on the trip didn’t realise is that she’s not only dealing with my diagnosis, but also the fact that her partners mum has been diagnosed with myeloma and also that her step-sister’s (my step-niece – although I see her purely as my niece!) father in law has myeloma. So unusual for so many un-blood related people to have myeloma in one family. But that aside, it was just so fab to get to know her even better whilst we bonded on this trip.

I made it!

We spent four days cycling the 500km to Paris with it culminating with the 12 of us patients heading the peleton into the centre of France – absolutely phenomenal. The months of training had paid off and I had got there and wasn’t crippled from the experience. I had enjoyed (nearly!) every second of this fabulous experience.

I’m so proud to say that I’ve raised over £7,300 so far – but I’m not too proud to say that I’d love more! If you are even partially impressed with what everyone achieved, please donate by clicking here It would be so fantastic if I could get to £8,000!!!

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London to Paris – on the Horizon

It’s now just 9 days till I leave to do my London to Paris ride for Myeloma UK, 21 months after I first signed up.

I’m really very proud of myself and for once in my life, I’m not ashamed to admit that. In that time, I’ve gone from being straight out of my stem cell transplant (nearly dead!) and a non-cyclist, to feeling like I’ve trained long enough and hard enough, that I hope I will not only complete the ride, but that I’ll also enjoy it as I go!!

I’m really really happy that my niece, Flis, will also be riding with me. I think the whole experience will be even more special being able to share it with someone in my family, and I hope it will give us a chance to bond lots too – something I always love doing with my family and friends. We’ve already planned the drunken party on the last day 🤣.

But seriously, it’s a bit mad. When Flis signed up, she did it largely because of me (I think!), and also because her brother-in-law’s dad had myeloma. That felt really strange that two of us had been affected by this rare cancer. But then her partners mum was also diagnosed with myeloma, so for her, she is now cycling for so many reasons.

If you’re following this blog, you’re no stranger to what myeloma is, either because I’ve bored you for so many years, or because you’re affected by myeloma yourself. But I am doing this ride not just for me, but for patients all over the UK and the world who are living with this cancer every day. I’m also doing it for the families who lost their precious loved ones. I never ever will forget those people I was blessed enough to call my friends, even if only for short periods of time. My lovely friend Kerry (from the Happy Giraffe group) has designed a logo that can go on my cycling tops to remember those that I miss and I’m so grateful to her. I’m not in touch with all the families now, but I still very much remember these friends.

🥰Pamela, Sandra, Geri, Henry, Marjorie, Sheila, Ian and Wendy🥰

They are just a few – there are more sadly. But whilst I know how lucky I am to still be here 13 years on, those people drew the short straw and their families and friends have to live with that loss every day. Doing my job for Brain Tumour Research, I have realised just how hard that must be for them all, more than I ever did before. And it makes me all the more determined to keep supporting Myeloma UK and the people affected by myeloma.

I’ve always said that once I’ve completed my #50KB450 and raised that £50,000 (I’m only £2k off it now!!), that I will take a proper break from my fundraising. And I absolutely will. My family and friends deserve that more than anything! But I won’t stop supporting myeloma patients in other ways because it’s too important. Raising awareness, early diagnosis and lobbying the government is the only way that I can hopefully stop having to go to funerals of people I care about. So that’s where my focus will go.

As for me at the moment, well things have been relatively stable although my last bloods weren’t quite as good. But I’m hoping that was a bit of a blip because they were taken at a time I wasn’t very well. I’m certainly not wallowing for once which is a nice change. Another outcome of living with this for so long is that I’m getting better at not panicking until we have an ongoing pattern of results!! So keep those fingers crossed that it all goes back to normal next month once I’m back from Paris.

In the meantime, if you would like to sponsor me for cycling to Paris, you can do so here. I know times are difficult for everyone, but even a fiver would be much appreciated!!

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Lucky 13 for me!

Thirteen years ago today, Nick and I were told the news that I had (multiple) myeloma against all the odds. The blood cancer that was most common in over 70’s, men and Afro Caribbean’s. Our world turned upside down in the space of a 15 minute consultation, as we were given more details about this cancer that was expected to allow me 2-5 years with my family.

But we’re so lucky and thirteen years on, two stem cell transplants and lots of drugs later, and I’m still here complaining about my messy children and all those other standard gripes that we have as we get older!

I have been to far too many funerals of fellow myeloma patients but it helps me remember that I really am lucky! Not only am I still here, but I work (almost) fulltime, cycle over 100 miles a week and my life is near normal. Whilst we don’t know how long this current remission will last, I am trying to totally embrace it and live life like I’m cancer free. I spent too many hours wishing I’d been more positive after my first transplant and just got on with things then without worrying about what would happen if I relapsed.

So today is a good day. A day that where once I felt sad, now I feel pretty damn positive! I’m here and I’m enjoying life to the full. And hopefully will still be doing these anniversary posts in another 13 years!

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