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A life in the cancer lane

East to west, coast to coast

I knew from the beginning that what I aim to achieve was going to be by no means easy. Months before I set upon my journey I contemplated whether I could do it. I knew deep down I could but how could I get away from the constant daily repetition of riding similar roads and not to get complacent? Well to prevent that from happening I had planned beforehand to organise numerous events to take part in to ‘mix it up’ or keep it fresh. Some I have done, I’ve travelled many miles to compete and take part in sportives all over the country and now it was time to do that travelling on the bike, from my very door. Since completing the length of Ireland ride I always wanted to ride coast to coast, east to west and since I live on the east coast I knew I could organise it fairly easy. So after some initial planning the ride was on. Bangor to Sligo, 140 odd miles. I planned to ride it over two days. Day one would take me to enniskillen 102 miles then day two would be just over 40 miles to Sligo then another 40 back to get the bus.
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I looked forward to the adventure. It was two days of just me, my bike and the countryside around me, the birds singing and hours for me to think and contemplate life, to think about what I’ve achieved and see how far I’ve come. You see the day before I set off it was my 10 year cancer anniversary. I was proud of where I had come in that time. This trip was as much of a celebration and doing it with the thought that 10 years ago this wouldn’t have been possible.
7am, Tuesday 15th August. The weather was great and I was fuelled up and ready. Once I worked my way through the hussle of rush hour traffic and got to the other side of Belfast, the roads where mine and I was alone at last to enjoy this. No more stress, just the open road ahead of me. More people need to get out in the open air, there is nothing better to relieve stress and anxiety. A slight hiccup 50 miles in due to roadworks I was back on track and well on schedule.
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Day one was quickly coming to an end. I arrived at the hotel and was still feeling good. First 100 miler of the year and nearly 7500 on the year. My pints of Guinness that night were well deserved!

Waking up on day 2 the dreaded sound of rain on the window was apparent. I didn’t believe it at first. I knew the forecast but I tried to pretend it wouldn’t happen but right enough as I looked out the window across the Lough it was in fact raining. To say it didn’t please me was an understatement but the sight afterwards of a guy sitting in the outdoor hottub below me at 7am did cheer me up. If he can do that sure me riding the bike for 5 odd hours should be no bother?
I do love a hotel breakfast, buffets are my dream especially when I know I need to fuel up for a big day. When I found it wasn’t a buffet my day was again on the turn.
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I couldn’t avoid it any longer. Off I set in the rain and off into the unknown. This part of the world is like a different world compared to the east coast of Ireland. Everyone works at a much slower pace and are very laid back. I just continued the theme and learned to embrace the typical Irish weather! Before I knew it Sligo and the Atlantic coast was in sight! I made it, no hang on I still had another42 mile in order to catch the bus! 42 miles, no bother. It was for 39 anyway. So close to the finish and then the heavens opened! I could have cried. I was tired and sore. My knees really weren’t thanking me and when I tried to push it on to get to shelter they sighed even more. My hip too and not forgetting my injured left arm were reminding me of how far I’d come but add to that being soaked to the bone just took the achievement out of it. Not until I was changed into dry clothes and sitting on the bus journey home did I appreciate my efforts. I enjoyed it because it was different but I enjoyed it because of what it is all in aid of. I never forget the real reason why I’m doing this and that’s what it’s all about. I’m so close now and I imagine the next time I’m doing a update I will nearly be done. For this trip I’d like to thank the killyhevlin hotel in enniskillen for their help. Back to the grind tomorrow and yet more miles for the cause. For every mile though comes more donations!
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Hoy100 and BikeparkWales

Just over a week ago I embarked on a trip that was to see me take part in an event for Pearl Izumi and ride one of the best mountain bike destinations in the UK. This trip had been months in the planning. Pearl Izumi asked me to pick an event I’d like to take part in of which they’d organise. I could have picked a local event but I wanted an adventure and to get away from the roads I ride every single day. I wanted to break the cycle excuse the pun and give myself something to aim for while grinding out all these miles. In the planning stage I decided to include a trip to Bpw as I might not get another opportunity for a while!
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So on July 1st I set off, got the ferry to Scotland and then proceeded to drive the 4 hours to Cheshire for my Pearl Izumi sportive, the Hoy100. I don’t know why I chose this over others. I guess I was swayed by the fact it was for one of this country’s greatest ever Olympians. I liked the idea of potentially riding it with him! So on the Sunday morning I arrived bright and early for registration then proceeded to meet up with fellow Pearl Izumi team-mate Peter Thomas. He apparently lived not far away and wanted the opportunity to cross paths again, seeing as though we haven’t since the induction day in March!
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The whole event was so layed back so our start was exactly what I needed after a long day of travelling the day before, nice and steady while my legs got into the rhythm! Peter and I chatted away while we scooted through the Cheshire countryside. It was refreshing to be riding alongside him, I’m so used to riding on my own at the minute that familiar company just makes the whole process easier. Dont get me wrong, I love cycling but some days this challenge wears me down and when you’ve only got your own voice to listen to, things can get very repetitive so another voice to listen to is good. The time was flying by as we covered the miles at a generous pace, not intentional may I add, we were just in the zone and making the most of the flat roads and good weather! After a brief water stop we continued. The final few miles I rode alone while Peter rode them at an easier pace. The guy then tells me he rode over 90 miles the day before so not a bit of wonder he wanted to slow the pace down, fair play.

Medal around my neck and burger being destroyed, my sportive was over. Even sir Chris got a medal, God knows why, I’m convinced the person giving out the medals didn’t know who he was haha but sure, I wonder if he’d swap mine for an Olympic one? Maybe not. It was great to represent Pearl Izumi once again. To have a brand like this supporting me through my efforts is amazing so this is the least I can do! So I said my goodbyes and got ready for the next long drive to south Wales this time for part two of the trip!

My mate Richard was coming to meet me at the hotel in order to come riding with me the following day. Richard joined me on my last cycling fundraising challenge as well as raced a season of enduro with me. We often reminisce of our cycling adventures of which we’ll both agree are greatly missed but life goes on, he now lives in London and my ambitions have changed too. It was good to talk to him about my 10000 mile challenge. He rode 6 days with me when riding the length of Ireland so appreciates the magnitude of what I’m doing. Luckily we both arrived within close time of one another so after a quick clean up it was to the pub we went for a few social pints and some dinner and get excited about tomorrow’s antics!
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The day arrived, I was finally going to get to ride the legendary bpw. What a place and what a change to riding the road. Mountain biking is my first love when it comes to cycling and when that adrenilin rush comes surging back I can remember why I miss it. Run after run, the dust slowly covering the bike and myself, I was smiling from ear to ear. Railing the berms and just throwing the bike from left to right, this was what i was after. I nearly didnt want to stop for lunch but my wrist was saying the opposite. After my road crash a couple of weeks back where I wrote off one of my road bikes, I had been suffering somewhat from the impact. Although xrays showed no breaks or fractures, I was still in pain so eventually I had to call it a day with probably 2 more uplifts available. I just couldn’t hold on no more so with my thoughts on long term I decided I had enough fun and was happy with my exploits and headed back to the car while Richard headed for one last run.

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So a week on and I’ve just completed yet another road ride. The trip was amazing, I’ve no idea when I’ll get back to the mainland for another cycling trip but another mini challenge is in the planning! Next up is next month whereby I will attempt to ride coast to coast of Ireland. I’ve ridden the length of the country so I want to complete the set by riding east coast to west coast. It’s a long ride alone but it’s something im keen to complete so watch this space for a run down on my mini adventure!

THE MAN, THE LEGEND

In my last blog about inspirations, I said I wanted to dedicate a blog to my old friend and massive inspiration, Gareth. Gareth went through a incredibly scary period in his life whereby his life was in the balance. To explain further I asked him a number of questions which he kindly answered and now I want to share with you to give you an insight of how amazing this guy is!

TELL ME THE FULL NAME OF THE CONDITION YOU HAD?

Guillain-Barre syndrome (pronounced ghee Ayn bar ray)

GIVE ME A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF WHAT IT IS.

Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS) is an autoimmune disorder whereby the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the peripheral nervous system. The initial symptoms are typically changes in sensation or pain along with muscle weakness, beginning in the feet and hands. This often spreads to the legs, arms and upper body with both sides effected. In some instances such as mine, it can result in total paralysis and respiratory failure, requiring mechanical ventilation and treatment in an intensive care unit. The cause of the condition is currently unknown but research has shown that the condition can be triggered by a viral infection, the immune system fights the virus and once destroyed, instead of stopping the immune system continues to fight,targeting the peripheral nervous system.
GBS is a rare and serious condition affecting approximately 1 in 100000 people every year. Globally death occurs in about 7.5% of those affected. Treatment together with supportive care and rehabilition will lead to a good recovery in the majority of cases, however recovery can range from weeks to years with about a third left with permanent weakness or residual effects.

IT MUST HAVE BEEN DIFFICULT BEYOND BELIEF TO WAKE UP AND NOT BE ABLE TO MOVE OR TALK OR INTERACT?

Defiently, it was by far the scariest moment of my life!
I was married to my wife Amanda in August 2014. During the second week of our honeymoon I started to get headaches at night along with a slight numbness and weakness in my hands and feet, we just thought it was either a bit of a cold, tiredness or the effects from the heat in Tenerife. The first week back to work I was feeling really unwell and the symptoms were getting worse so I decided to see my doctor on the Friday. The doctor thought it was a bad flu or viral infection and advised me to give it another few days to see if it would improve. That evening the numbness, weakness and pain were getting worse so I went to the out of hours doctor for a second opinion but they advised the same. By Saturday evening my entire body was aching and I was struggling to walk or stand without help so we decided to go to A&E. I was admitted to the medical assessment unit in the hospital where they could keep me in for observations and tests to determine what was wrong. One of the tests was a spinal tap-biggest needle I’ve ever seen stuck into my back to draw off cerebrospinal fluid. From this test the doctors thought I had viral meningitis and advised that the symptoms would likely get worse before it gets better and bed rest was the answer. I was discharged on the Monday.
As the doctors said,the symptoms were getting worse. Tuesday night was the first time I felt real fear, I was finding it hard to breathe as if someone was sitting on my chest. I remember saying to Amanda not to let me fall asleep as I didn’t think I would wake up again. Wednesday morning I was essentially paralysed from the waist down. We rang the doctor who came to the house. Upon seeing me and making her assessment she said that it wasn’t viral meningitis but most likely GBS. As I was unable to move my legs and already experiencing breathing difficulties she called for an ambulance.
In a&e resus the doctors agreed with the GBS diagnosis and the icu team were brought in to explain the next step and treatment process. I was told that I needed to be put on a mechanical ventilator as a precautionary measure against the respiratory failure for approx 5 days and hopefully by then, with treatment, I would be on the road to recovery. As you can imagine this wasn’t the news that I wanted to hear, and I’ll admit that I was scared…really scared… not just for me, but for Amanda as well. We were only married 3 weeks and this wasn’t part of the plan. The doctors said I would be sedated for roughly 5 days while on life support so not to worry. There was nothing for it then but to get on with it. Sadly things didn’t go to plan…My body didn’t appear to be responding to the first round of treatment. After a couple of days my body experienced respiratory failure and became completely dependent on the ventilator. Since this was going to be longer term I was given a tracheotomy (breathing tubes through the throat) instead of the ventilator through the mouth. This also meant that the level of sedation was also reduced.
I remember bits and pieces during the first couple of days in icu,even while sedated. The main thing I remember at first was the confusion over why I couldn’t move my body. I quickly realised that I was completely paralysed,from head to toes, I couldn’t even blink. My eye lids were frozen in the open position which thankfully meant I wasn’t paralysed in darkness-a small mercy but one I would happily accept nonetheless.
My main frustration was the lack of communication. I don’t think I will ever be able to fully explain to someone the feeling of having your ability to communicate stripped away from you and how difficult it is being fully paralysed and unable to speak because of the very machine that is keeping you alive. Thankfully I was able to move my eyes and my wife decided that they could work out what I wanted to say by asking me a series of closed questions and I would respond by looking up once for yes, and twice for no. Slow,frustrating and limited but it was something at least and far better than nothing!

WHEN I WENT THROUGH CANCER I HAD DAYS WHERE I NEVER THOUGHT THE PAIN WOULD END, DID YOU EVER THINK THAT YOURSELF? WHEN I VISITED YOU I JUST SAW THE LOOK OF DETERMINATION IN YOUR EYES NO MATTER HOW HARD YOUR DAY WAS!

We all think we have experienced the worst pain at some point, just think how many times we say “I’ve never felt pain like it” or “there’s nothing worse than…” I can honestly say the pain throughout my whole body was excruciating and something I could have never imagined or thought possible. Except for my inability to move and speak I would have been thrashing about the place and screaming. I couldn’t do this so I had nothing else to do but persevere.
I think the biggest thing that got me through my whole GBS journey (10 weeks in icu and 3 months of rehab) was the support from my family, friends and my faith in God,
It may sound strange but I knew from the beginning that I would get through this and I would be ok, I just needed to learn patience. I completely rejected the possibility that I could die or I wouldn’t recover from this.

I ONLY THOUGHT I HAD TO START FROM SCRATCH WHEN I FINISHED CHEMO BUT YOU LITERALLY HAD TO. YOU HAD TO LWARN THE BASICS AGAIN, ALL THE THINGS WE TAKE FOR GRANTED! WHAT INSPIRED YOU AND DROVE YOU TO GET YOUR LIFE BACK?

Yeah it was difficult-I had to relearn how to hold a pen to write, hold a glass to drink, eat stand and walk. It’s been a long process.
As I’ve alluded to previously, as well as support from my family and friends, my faith was my determination. I knew that I was going to be ok, there was no question of it in my mind, I just needed to be patient and work hard. Don’t get me wrong, there were some low points and plenty of frustration along the way.

I NEVER TOLD YOU THIS BUT YOUR ONE OF MY INSPIRATIONS AND YOU AMAZED ME IN THE WAY YOU HANDLED SUCH A LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS. YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR AND STUBBORNNESS TO SUCCEED SHOWED ME WHAT WE CAN ALL BE CAPABLE OF. I JUST WANT TO THANK YOU FOR THAT.

Thanks mate, I honestly don’t know how to respond to that…
Your an inspiration yourself, dealing with and battling cancer at 20, not to mention all you do for friends of the cancer centre.

I’VE ALWAYS SAID THAT CANCER CHANGED ME FOR THE BETTER. NOT EVERYONE UNDERSTANDS THAT COMMENT BUT YOU HAVING GONE THROUGH A POTENTIAL LIFE THREATENING ILLNESS ALSO, CAN YOU SAY YOU’RE THE SAME? HAS IT MADE YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE AND ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS EVEN MORE OR WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ALL THAT ANYWAY?

Yeah I completely agree!

I found my faith again through this illness and learnt a lot about myself along the way.

When I was young I had a relationship with God but I lost this in my late teens through some difficult times. Around a year or two leading up to GBS I started to ask questions about God again and got involved with some church type activities but never made any commitment with God.
Sometimes we need a nudge in the right direction, other times we need a kick… I think GBS was my kick from God.
In a&e resus when I was told the news and what would happen, I decided now was the right time to make that connection with God again and I decided to fully lean on him. It was at that exact moment that I knew I would be fine, I felt a peace or calmness and I knew that I could overcome this and anything that was thrown my way.
Since GBS I have said to people that I wouldn’t change a thing. It brought me to God and I learnt how to be more patient and that I had a strength and determination that I previously didn’t realise. It also made my family closer.
With respect to achieving goals, I think it has definitely made a huge impact on that aspect of my life. It’s made me a more determined person and when I set my mind to something I’ll do everything I can to achieve it. I believe I’m actually fitter now than I’ve been for a long time. I’ve taken up going to the gym and yoga 3-r times a week. My most recent achievement was completing the strabane-Ilford half marathon.
I’m sure there will be plenty more challenges and successes to come in the future, watch this space!!

WHAT IS IN THE PLANS FOR THE FUTURE AND WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO ANYONE FACING DIFFICULT TIMES?

Never underestimate the power of positivity! In my opinion a positive mental attitude is worth more than any treatment or therapy.
Plans for the future?… Not entirely sure at the minute, just enjoying life with Amanda. In relation to challenges, as I’ve already mentioned I recently completed a half marathon which I’m proud of considering only 2 years ago I had to learn to walk again! Nothing else planned in that sense, especially nothing like what you set yourself! Riding 10000 miles in a year, your a mad man! Going to do the mourne wall this summer, maybe a triathlon Sprint and my dad has mentioned canoeing from portadown to Coleraine, but we’ll see what happens.

MANY THANKS GARETH FOR SHARING YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH ME. YOUR AN INSPIRATION TO MANY AND I WISH YOU ALL THE LUCK IN THE FUTURE!

INSPIRATIONS

Everybody has someone or something that inspires them. It could be a family member,sports star, musician,friend,the list goes on. I can’t talk for everyone else but personally I always strive to better myself, to achieve to the best of my abilities. To push myself and get that feeling of satisfaction that you only get when you know you’ve given 100%. Sometimes I look up to others in order to prove to myself that if I want to achieve what I have in mind, anything is possible if you have the will and determination just like all of my inspirations in life. Don’t get me wrong, I have ambitions and goals that no matter what I will achieve but sometimes when things are hard and your feeling like giving up, you just need to look to those that inspire us and that puts us right back on track!
INSPIRATIONS come and go but some stick with us. They normally come when we are at our lowest and in need of a gentle push back to normality. Most of mine have come about since having cancer. I never needed role models more than when I had the disease. I look at life differently now too since and appreciate just what hard times are and how to get through them. I’ve witnessed others go through terrible times and they inspire me also.
First off I’d like to talk about one role model that is truely there for me. What I mean is, she was actually there on a personal level unlike some of my other inspirations.Kathy Cash was one of the main people who steered me in the right direction after cancer. I was in a bad place,didn’t know where to turn and upon meeting Kathy at my first cancer support meeting, she took me under her wing and from there on helped me through my journey. Words can’t be put on paper how much I look up to her. What she has went through herself but still found the time to help me is unbelievable and I’ll be eternally grateful.
While on the topic of cancer, two more of my inspirations are connected to the disease. The controversial one I’ll leave for now and talk about the other first.
Cancer survivors in General are inspiring me on a daily basis. Any of you going through it or beaten it, hats off to you. Your amazing and are true warriors. Without naming names, you know who you are. There are a select few I have the pleasure of knowing who have fought or are still fighting the disease. When I seen what they went through, my journey is insignificant in comparison! These individuals have been knocked to the floor so many times, been Ill beyond belief and faced turbulent times to the Point Whereby They’ve Nearly Given Up But They Haven’t. They dug deeper than most people know possible and refused to give in. Their drive, determination and desire for life is inspiring in its own right! That is enough to get me out of bed every morning and be thankful for every healthy living second I’m here on this earth. I know what the fight is like so I can understand the battle. My respect is off the scale for all cancer survivors!
The controversial inspiration is the one and only Lance Armstrong! Love him or hate him,what he went through on a personal level when he had cancer is unbelievable. We both shared the same cancer so I read his book to see what I was in for. Upon reading it, it scared the life out of me. If you’ve read his book you’ll know what I mean! As scared as I was it did however inspire me to beat the disease. Even after cancer much of what I achieved in life is because of Armstrong’s achievements. Yes he cheated in a professional capacity and that is controversial but in a sport riddled with doping he wasn’t the only one. He was the only one to nearly have died due to cancer and have lasting side effects and to bounce back and do what he did is the bit I have respect and admiration for. That was as much about hard work and the belief in himself more than anything and that is what I’ve always taken and used in my own life! I will talk more about this subject in a future blog though so watch this space!
On the topic of cycling, this next inspiration is somewhat new to me but blows me away with his life’s work. Mark Beaumont is what can only be described as an endurance cyclist. I’m nearly trying to replicate his goals with my own. There is only so much I can say as I’m currently reading about one of his adventures so all I can say is check him out to see why I look up to him.

http://www.markbeaumontonline.com

His next challenge is to cycle around the world in 80 days! Yes you read that correct. Makes my challenge look pitiful but you never know, maybe one day I’ll try myself haha. On a serious note he does prove what is possible if you put your mind to something and stick to it. Just takes a pinch of belief and determination!

A completely different inspiration but one that many can relate to and that is music. Music is a massive part of my life and one band in particular that guided me through my journey IS feeder and my favourite song of all time. This song resonates in so many ways and I’m going to show you why it lifts me up and gives me hope.

Love in, love out
Find the feeling
Scream in, scream out
Time for healing
You feel the moments gone too soon,
You’re watching clouds come over you,

Torn in two,
You close your eyes for some place new,
Torn in two,

And I feel its going down,
Ten feet below the ground,
I’m waiting for your healing hand,
One touch could bring me round
I feel we’re going down,
Ten feet below the ground,
It’s just the way I’m feeling,

Glow in, burn out,
Lost the feeling
Bruise in you bruise out,
Nurse the bleeding…

So there is an insight to what inspires me and makes up a small part of who I am. It’s so important to not only take pride in our achievements but to recognise that we can’t do these things without help and encouragement. Everyone in life has that role model. Take a minute and be thankful for them.
I have one more inspiration but I feel this person deserves a blog post of their own so my next post is going to go into depths about my friend Gareth, and what an amazing man he is.

5000 miles you say, completed It mate

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Showing the guns in my celebration of hitting the halfway Mark.

IT’S ALL DOWNHILL FROM HERE!

I promised myself that I would do regular updates of my blog but as always being busy has got in the way. I don’t like to use it as an excuse but I’m afraid I have to. Between being busy and so shattered, it’s hard finding the time to keep the updates going. However I just had to mark this occasion as its a significant milestone in my fundraising challenge! In the past week I passed the halfway mark, that’s 5000 miles cycled in just under 6 months.

To give you a better idea of what that is the equivalent to its like travelling from the UK to the likes of the east coast of China. That sounds slightly more impressive. In that space of time I’ve been cycling for about 356 hours, or 171 days. I don’t know if that sounds impressive or just plain stupid.

To be honest, I didn’t know how hard it would be to get to this point. It’s been difficult no doubt but I’ve got fitter and more determined to succeed! In the process. I like to look at it that its all downhill from here. It isn’t quite as straightforward  as that I know however I have got this far so to do it all again shouldn’t be too difficult, could it? I’m not trying to play down the task in hand but I do understand  and appreciate what it takes to ride 5000 miles and I feel like I can learn from the experience and improve on it. If I put those theories in action, it should be slightly easier or at least that’s the plan! First off though is a well deserved rest. I haven’t taken more than a day off at a time since I started. I feel like I deserve a proper rest so I plan to take a weekend free of bikes and work. Hopefully that gives my body adequate time to recuperate and get back on the wagon for the second half of the challenge!

As you probably well know, the reason I’m doing all this is to raise awareness and funds for my chosen charity. If you find the time and have any spare change your willing to part with please donate. Id very much appreciate it!

http://www.justgiving.com/ryan-hubbard14

http://www.friendsofthecancercentre.com

THE REAL REASON FOR DOING WHAT I DO

Riding bikes each and everyday in the attempt to do good as well as work, live and play, can take a lot of time. Add in the charity work behind the scenes to create awareness of my challenge and the charity and I can be forgiven for having gone quiet on the updates to my fundraising! 

The last number of weeks have been hectic to say the least. The Pearl Izumi challenge was going well as far as the mileage goes but the fundraising has went a bit stale so step forward the back-up plan to help raise some funds! 

First up was a stationary cycle in my local shopping centre. This was months in the planning, it was always something that was planned to do during the year. My local shopping centre was the perfect place to do so. March25th was the day chosen. The Sun was out and mother’s day was the following day so this potentially could be a good haul. I didn’t want to set any targets as to be honest I didn’t know what to expect.

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I started at 10.30 am. The plan was to ride an hour at a time. As I did that, Sarah the fundraising officer from ‘Friends of the cancer centre’ would chat to any interested parties wanting to know about what I was doing or what the charity did. We where there until 4pm. It was such a worthwhile effort. We got plenty of feedback and lots of interest in the charity! The exposure was better than I expected and that’s half the reason for doing it in the first place, to raise  more awareness! To top it off we raised a decent total £185. Not bad I think and gets the total amount moving again.

The following weekend same idea but slightly different approach. Collecting money was the name of the game but no bikes where involved. I wasn’t too optomistic this time as it was just me, a bucket, a few volunteers and that’s it. No props, no advertising, just the basics. Much to my surprise it went better than the previous week! Thankfully it did as standing on the spot for 6 hours isn’t as easy as it sounds! 

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All in all though the fundraising is back on the move again. I’m glad as it makes me realise why I’m doing all this, as if I could forget! The awareness of the charity is growing too! Ive been supporting the charity for 10 years and its part of my life but to others, they are oblivious and that’s been a shock. I guess that’s slightly nieve of me but I honestly thought people knew! When there is so many charities that aren’t local but people believe they are, we can be overlooked and stereotyped but when you tell people just where we are and how we help it really opens people’s eyes! Hopefully that will lead to more support. Do me a favour and take a look at the website. I’m not asking for donations. Just take a minute and look into what I’m so passionate about

http://www.friendsofthecancercentre.com 

Does your diet affect your chances of getting cancer?

Sometimes i’ve wondered is what I have eaten caused me to get cancer? Well can you blame me! We read it, watch it and we hear all about it. Constantly over the years we are lead to believe that our diet can increase our chances of getting cancer! Considering that what we eat is hugely important to our everyday lives it is understandable that people get worried and paranoid about how we fuel our bodies! Without food we won’t survive so is there any truth behind the theory?

In a world where obesity is becoming the norm, we can’t deny it’s not due to what we eat and the quantity we eat. It is said that being overweight increases the risk of getting 13 types of cancer! That’s being overweight, not obese so what are the risks with that!!

I bet most people will look at themselves and wonder, then follow that with the question ‘how do I know?’ Well I can guarantee if you think your overweight there’s a good chance you are! And with that comes the questions. It’s not as simple as if I’m overweight I will get cancer, there are many different aspects to it but that doesn’t mean we can’t do something about it. Many studies conducted between the association of diet and cancer have experts agreeing the food we eat can affect the risk. You only have to do a bit of research to see the many stories similar to this. So let’s assume it’s correct. What do we do?

So before stating the obvious, check your bmi or body mass index. It is a measure of body fat based on height and weight. The NHS has one on its website. Now this isn’t the be all and end all as it doesn’t take into consideration muscle which weighs more than fat. The fact of the matter is, a healthier diet could help prevent numerous cancers. First off let’s look at some of the things in our diets that are linked to increasing the risk.

Processed + red meat

Everyone has heard about the increased health risks with these. I have to admit I am partial to a bacon sandwich and the occasional slab of beef but is that potentially going to kill me? Well processed meat has been classified as a ‘definite ’cause of cancer and red meat is ‘probable’ according to cancer research UK. It goes as far as saying processed eat is a ‘carcinogen’ something that causes cancer. The evidence has been building for years and is supported by a lot of careful research but what does it mean, how much is it sensible to eat? Let’s be clear, yes a prolonged high meat diet isn’t terribly good for you but a steak, bacon sarnie or sausage bap a couple of times a week isn’t much to worry about. And overall the risks are much lower than for or things such as smoking! It’s a good source of some nutrients such as protein, iron and zinc. It’s just about being sensible and not eating too much too often.

Who likes a bit of sugar? Don’t be fibbing now, everyone likes sugar but so do cancer cells! Sugar in our food is a major problem in today’s society. It’s not even a matter of having too many sugars in our tea, or an extra biscuit here and there. So many foods contain sugar and most of us are unaware. Don’t even get me started on fizzy drinks! I’m partial to the odd energy drink or tin of coke but I don’t rely on them like I see with others. The daily sugar intake in those is scary. So too much sugar is bad but why in terms of cancer? Well sugar essentially feeds tumours and encourages cancer growth.

I’ve found by cooking from fresh you can keep control of your sugar intake. Again, it’s keeping it at a sensible level! Although not a food, alcohol is another obvious cancer risk. I see more and more people’s reliance of alcohol. That generally leads to smoking too. I’ve witnessed the effects of having a taste for both through a lifetime with my dad and he unfortunately lost his life to cancer. He smoked and drank most of his life.

So is there anything that actually helps reduce the risk? On the reader’s digest page they suggest 30 foods to help prevent cancer http://www.rd.com/health/conditions  unsurprisingly it’s full of fruit and veg. Healthier diets could prevent 1 in 10 cancers. Without named all 30 I’ve picked out a few that we probably all eat and didn’t realise they have great benefits.

Garlic   ▪Broccoli    ▪Grilled salmon    ▪Ginger      ▪Mediterranean diet

Apples    ▪Coffee   ▪Antioxidants 

The governments eat well guide is a good indicator to a healthy diet. That’s if you want to of course. No harm in looking eh? No matter how much we try and help ourselves to lead a healthier lifestyle, that doesn’t mean we are immune to cancer or any other health issue. No one is immune, I guess the moral of the story is to lead it in a way which makes us happy. As the old cliche goes, live each day like its your last. This post is only a guide, a point of reference if you so wish to follow it. Just try and live without regrets. Don’t deny yourself that bacon sarnie either 😉 just don’t live on them!

PEARL IZUMI INDUCTION DAY

We ride for fun, perhaps we race or we are involved in the sport in no shortage of ways but when we are acknowledged for what we do it’s always a great feeling! I’ve been riding, racing and fundraising  with bikes for many years. I’ve never asked for thanks, or be showered with gratitude but the past weekend I got just that and it felt so great. On Friday I flew to England to go to Pearl Izumi HQ to meet the team and learn about the brand I was to represent for this coming year.

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I had been one of 50 people around the UK  to be chosen to be an ambassador. We are guinea pigs essentially as PI have never done a programme like this in the UK, only the U.S. Pearl Izumi, the biggest cycling clothing brand in the world were restructuring their advertising and marketing  in a sense and were trying to get passionate, everyday cyclists to show off the range. As we went through some presentations we learned what was expected of us and how the brand wanted to be portrayed to the cycling community. With so much competition in the market this could be a new fresh way of getting the name out there.

After our induction, ride after lunch and collection of our team gear, we all had time to reflect on the experience. Speaking with some of the brand team, they were so thankful for us all coming. They wanted people like me who dedicate their lives to their sport to showcase them. They believed in my ambitions and plans and charity work and in turn I believe in them. I felt like a pro for the first time and only time. With my current challenge I have referred to the lack of motivation sometimes with the sheer size of the distance I need to cover. This is just another little boost to the ego and mindset to get me through those hard times. Sometimes I feel like my riding 10000 miles is underestimated but I no longer do 

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The Pearl Izumi team and my fellow teammates gave me such great words of encouragement and respect to what I’m doing and for it to come from such amazing individuals themselves, all doing amazing things for their sport, charities, organizations and personal goals, it is a proud moment for me to associated with this. So the rest of my challenge and the rest of the year, I hope to do everyone proud. Thankyou my fellow Pi teammates, thankyou James Hards and the Pi team for your belief in me and the support you’ve passed on. I’m ready to go out on the bike once again tomorrow with a big smile on my face and continue to show the world just what’s possible after beating cancer!

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