An 82 Year Old Free-wheeling Inspiration
An 82 year old Yorkshireman, who has recently recovered from cancer, is to cycle 311 miles from London to Paris over four days in September, to raise money for Leeds Cancer Centre that looked after him during his treatment.
Brian Graham has cycled all his life. His first bike was the ‘company vehicle’…as a twelve-year-old he delivered groceries for the local shop. He saved up enough with his wages to buy a 3-speeder racer on hire purchase (his Mum acted as guarantor!) which deepened his passion for cycling, especially with no wicker basket on the front.
Fast forward seventy years – via the Army, marriage to Anne, construction company owner and two children and he still cycles…but in 2016, as Brian puts it, the wheels could have come off.
In 2016 Brian and Anne lived near Grassington.
“I went on my bike to Grassington, to the Doctors for a blood test. At 3AM the next morning I had a phone call from the staff at the Hospital who had assessed my readings, and instructed to immediately get up, drink strong tea and eat toast and get to my doctors first thing… I had suspected bowel cancer and it was pretty bad.
"After that consultation, I was referred to Airedale Hospital where it was confirmed, and I was fast tracked for treatment.”
“As you can imagine it was all a bit of a blur. I was fit and healthy. I cycled, played tennis and had a good diet but I had this large tumour which was close to the muscle that supports the pelvis that needed to be removed.”
Brian started six weeks of a mixture of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to first of all shrink the tumour so it didn’t touch his muscles, before waiting another six weeks to see if the tumour had shrunk sufficiently to have the bottom part of his bowel removed and a non-reversible ileostomy was created.
Brian spent three days in Intensive Care and then another three on the ward before leaving for home.
“I don’t think I stayed in hospital that long” smiled Brian.
“You have to be positive, have faith and have the good fortune to be looked after by a great group of clinicians.”
Whilst in recovery, Brian and his wife Anne were inspired after attending an evening about the new MR (Magnetic Resonance) Simulator for Leeds Cancer Centre.
“I thought I should help out and as a keen cyclist there was only one thing to do…ride my bike. And if you are going to do something it might as well be a big thing and a challenge.
"I looked at cycling from Leeds to my new home, but it was dangerous with fast roads (I once rode from Yorkshire to the south coast and back in a week when I was young).
"I then came across organised events with planned routes, medics and support. You pay for their services and expertise for your peace of mind and then you raise money for your chosen charity. As we were moving down south the London to Paris sounded great, so I signed up.”
Post the trauma of the operation Brian and Anne decided now was the time to move closer to their family who live on the South Coast. They had decided to move beforehand but the operation brought everything forward. After searching in the Bournemouth, Poole and Dorchester area they found the beautiful village of Maiden Newton that they now call home.
During the operation Brian had an ileostomy where the small bowel is diverted through an opening in the abdomen. He now uses a stoma bag which collects body waste through the opening, called a stoma, on the tummy.
The company that supplies Brian’s stoma bags, Medilink, heard about his story and decided to sponsor him. Part of Salts Healthcare, which is a 300-year-old family-owned firm from Birmingham, Medilink has one of its regional customer care centres in based in Bournemouth where Brian gets all his supplies from.
Brian and his wife Anne received a cheque for £500 from Salts staff at their Bournemouth centre.
Medilink Bournemouth Dispensing Care Centre Manager Gill Waller said:
“Brian is an inspiration. When we heard about his trip – all 311 miles of it in four days – to Paris we had to support him.
"His life story, how he overcame the cancer and his general positivity towards life and the people around him just puts a smile on your face. Knowing what he has been through, it is humbling to donate to his worthwhile cause.”
Brian has trained throughout the Spring and Summer even during the heatwave of July. He hopes it will be cooler in September but is looking forward to the challenge.
“I know I’ll be OK, I’ve trained hard. I know down below will be OK too, I’m positive about that. I just don’t want to hold everyone up.”
Brian’s journey starts 12 September in central London and finishes under the Arc de Triomphe, Paris, four days later. If you wish to donate visit: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/brian-graham3
Facts and figures about Brian’s cycle ride…at 82 years of age, post cancer with a stoma.
Journey: London to Paris via Dover…311 miles/500km
Period: 4 days/3 overnight to complete
Average speed required to finish on time: 10mph/16kph
Stage – average distance: 77.75 miles/125.13km
An 82 Year Old Free-wheeling Inspiration, 31st August 2018, 17:28 PM