When keen cyclist Mark Hill decided to do a sponsored ride for Cancer Research UK, he had to get the timing right.
For Mark, 48, from Chedburgh, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in March and is halfway through chemotherapy so he has to do the ride at the right stage of the therapy cycle.
“It’s the first week of the treatment that zonks me out,” he said. “But by the second week, I’m starting to normalise.”
Side effects differ from person to person, but he suffers tiredness and pins and needles, with such skin sensitivity that he has to wear gloves.
Optimistically, he said: “The ride is at the end, on the last day before I start my next cycle, so I should be at my best.”
Mark was running a fund raising barbecue in July with neighbours when he had an email about a Cycle Unite event in Cambridge.
“The thing that caught my eye was that they have a common finishing point, but you can cycle two miles or 200 miles to get there,” he said.
“I’m a keen cyclist, so I registered for it, set up my Just Giving website and raised nearly £1,000, then I got the letter saying they had cancelled it.”
Mark understands the organisers had no option, because the event had failed to attract enough cyclists to make it viable.
But he added: “I thought, I’ve done the training and I felt duty bound because people had been so generous – you can’t just turn round and say ‘actually, I’m not going to do the cycling’. I’d have felt very guilty about doing that.
“I’m going to do the ride just the same with a small group of friends – we’ll go on the cycle ride to Cambridge, which will be 40 to 50km, depending on the route we take.”
Mark’s dad, Richard, will be driving a support vehicle for the ride on August 30.
Mark has set himself a £750 target, but his Just Giving Page is already 20 per cent above that.
Mark’s Just Giving page is at www.justgiving.com/Mark-Hill14
Cancer Research UK says bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK and the third most common in men.
About 41,600 people were diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2011 in the UK. The incenence of it has risen by six per cent in the past decade.
Mark is young to get it because 95 per cent of cases are in people aged over 50.
But the good news is that five-year survival rates for bowel cancer have more than doubled over the last 40 years. Nearly 60 per cent will survive the disease for at least 10 years.