Imagine a week that you’d bottle as “classic LCFN”, so you could come back in ten years to relive the memory (the memory mind, not the experience: there’s a big difference): this week would have been a candidate. In terms of what my life has been about for the past two and a half years, this week pretty much had it all.
I want to turn the clock back seven days to last Saturday morning. I got an instant message from my mate Kev. Kev was one of the Team Eileidh Highland Bikers who rode the 215 miles from Forres to Celtic Park last May to raise money to help wee Eileidh get to America for DFMO treatment to help prevent neuroblastoma from coming back. A wee aside here for a moment: I am a fan of instant messenger, a big fan. I like the fact that you can reach people, if you need to, whose mobile number you don’t have. Now I know that in some circles, messaging someone when you’ve never met them is deemed to be rude. I accept that and in principle I play by those rules. But sometimes, you’ve just gotta do what you’ve gotta do. That’s key to this story.
I’ll give you the edited version of Kev’s message…
“Big article in the Daily Record today on neuroblastoma. Gave them a heads up on LCFN on the back of it by email”.
I was straight onto it. We don’t buy the red tops but a quick swatch online revealed a story about a wee boy from Drumoyne in Glasgow who’s battling the disease.
The article was headlined with “We have never felt heartache or sadness like this”. I thought “I’ve been here before”. I wasn’t prepared to sit on the outside of this story, looking in. Here was a wee boy virtually on my doorstep that I knew nothing of, suffering from the very disease that I’m trying to highlight and support.
When I’d read the story, my immediate reaction was “Kian’s 15 months behind Eileidh in the neuroblastoma timeline: and she’s still fighting with a smile on her face. I need to contact Lisa, Kian’s mum”.
Cue Facebook and instant messenger. Five minutes later, I’d rattled off a message explaining who I was, what I’m doing, and how I’d seen Kian’s story in the paper. Twenty minutes later I got a reply. Contact established.
Kian was diagnosed last July. It was the 389th day of LCFN and the day before I went through 16,000 miles. Now I’m trying to play catch up on the story: for in this joined up Social Media world, I’ve done 5,000 LCFN Miles and I didn’t even know that there was a wee boy 15 miles up the road who needs our help every bit as much as Eileidh needed our help a year ago. The romantic in me wants them to grow up and appreciate what each other has been through. But that’s some way down the road.
My first port of call was Kian’s Facebook page, Kian’s Neuroblastoma Journey. If you’ve followed the journeys of other children, you’ll recognise many of the difficulties. But each child is different. Each child is someone’s son or daughter. That’s what makes each journey so special and so unique. Kian’s Journey is also Lisa and Steven’s Journey, and Shay, Brogan and Ava’s journey. I look at them and I immediately think of Cerys, Eileidh’s big sister. There’s inspiration to be drawn from all quarters.
You can find the newspaper story here http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/mum-rare-cancer-boy-kian-7104260 and suffice to say that it pretty accurately describes where Kian is at, except that his timescale has slipped by a couple of weeks, indicative of the challenges that he still faces every passing day.
Every time I learn of a new case of the disease, it makes me so mad that Coronation St started with a neuroblastoma story in the summer, before totalling bottling it and making it appear as though it could be cured by six weeks of outpatient appointments. I said it at the time and I’ll say it again now: Corrie did the families affected by the disease a great disservice and they should be rightly ashamed of their storyline.
So yes, my mind has been somewhat preoccupied by Kian’s plight all week. But that has merely served to focus my mind….
Because Scotland enjoys an extra Bank Holiday at New Year, the first LCFN week of 2016 didn’t kick off until Tuesday. Regular followers will know that I finished 2015 with 30 consecutive 200 mile weeks so the challenge to make that 31 was as back ended as it was intimidating. I say back ended because I finish at 11:45am on a Friday and that offers huge potential for play catch up or chasing bonus miles. But I’d seen the forecast as far back as last weekend. Friday promised a band of wet stuff moving in around midday on a top temperature of 3C. For 3C a week ago, read actual -2.2C and driving sleet and snow.
So I front loaded the week. After seventeen days of sitting on my arse, except for a couple of 20 mile excursions to remind my legs that I was still in the game, I set off on Tuesday to bag the contingency that I reckoned I might need later in the week. However the problem with sitting about doing nothing is that your body adapts to it: so when I set off for home on Tuesday night, first day back, my blood sugar was all over the place. Nothing different, same eating pattern as a normal LCFN day: it’s just that my body didn’t know that it needed to find 1400 calories to fuel the bike… crash n burn!
I generally have a wee pit stop near the Red House so on this occasion I was straight into the first packet of the emergency Haribos that I carry for exactly this eventuality. Reserve fuel onboard, I was then able to clog it through Fenwick and Kilmaurs onward to Cunninghamhead before attacking Stewarton from the other side. 56 miles was a job well done but critically, those six miles of contingency were crucial. I managed to follow that up with another daft effort on Tuesday, 53 miles this time, fuelled by a giant jam doorstep (home made secret recipe) which gave me a healthy nine miles to play with.
Thursday’s weather was shit. Raining into work on a stiff easterly headwind at around zero degrees, the wind then proceeded to turn right round and present itself back in my face on the way home. Nasty, very nasty. But a pair of 25’s kept that contingency in my back pocket.
A nasty attack of cramp in my right quad last night was a further reminder, as if I needed it, that I’m back on the edge. Add to that a streaming cold that Jane and I both managed to pick up last weekend and the week has been overflowing with health issues that I’d really prefer not be be dealing with. But hey, this is LCFN and we deal with stuff: we send it packing.
Cue this morning: -3.8C up on the Muir, I’d crashed even before I got there. There are several places on the untreated Clunch Road where floodwater runs out of the fields and across the road. When that freezes, as it did overnight, and it’s unlit, you have a problem. The first issue is you cannae ride fast because if you run into one of these frozen puddles, especially if the road’s on a camber, you’re off the bike. That’s exactly what happened at the foot of the Damhead Hill. Fortunately I was going down the gears at the time and not really going that fast, but it still comes as a shock when it happens: the front wheel goes one way and the back wheel goes the other… bang!
But it was fine: 25 in meant I only needed 16 to bag that coveted 31st two hunnerd: and the shortest route home is 16…
Since I’ve been chasing the big miles, which seems like forever now, I’ve been doing a loop round the back of Shawlands on my way home. I can hear you asking why would I actually want to head off in the wrong direction in the dark. Because I can.
So I bagged that loop at lunchtime and all was well until I got halfway up the Ayr road (that’s a 3 mile climb by the way) when the snow started. I was still a good two miles (and 300ft) short of the start of the Fenwick Muir so I knew straight away that this was going to be fun. The Garmin told me it was -2.2C over the top of the Fenwick Muir and with the snow smashing into my face, I thought of one thing: Kian.
I thought of the photos that Lisa has posted on his page, with his happy smiling face, and thought of the same kind of images that Gail has posted many times of Eiliedh. What is it with these special wee warriors that despite the most gruelling of treatments, and the most excruciating procedures, that they still find the energy and the love to bounce back and be a happy wee person again.
Eileidh is still winning her battle and I hope that Lisa and Steven can take comfort from that in the weeks and months that lie ahead.
Wee Kian Do it!