WHY I’M CYCLING 127 MILES ALONG THE LEEDS LIVERPOOL CANAL
BY JON PICKETT (BRANCH TREASURER)
Everyone talks about personal challenges but in March 2016 I experienced someone undertaking the ultimate personal challenge, that person was my Auntie Ann. She was that person every family has, the one who always seemed to be in control, held everyone together and always told you the truth whether you wanted it or not! She always reminded us that as a family “we could do it”.
So what was Auntie Ann’s personal challenge? Well it was one that I wish she hadn’t had to take, but one I’m tremendously proud to have witnessed.
The challenge was when diagnosed with a Terminal Grade 4 malignant Glioblastoma Brain Tumour what decision did she make (operation or not) and how did she deal with the consequences of that decision?
Faced with that sort of choice I’d expect most people to be bitter, lost, overwhelmed and probably abdicate responsibility to the medical experts.
Well if that’s what most people would do Auntie Ann was obviously not “everyone”. She was calm, considered the pros and cons before deciding no operation and quality time with her family. To be honest what she really meant was she wanted time to tell us to make the most of opportunities, remind us family and friends are important and just generally boss us about. She also insisted that irrespective of the time the “experts” had given her she was in charge and would, despite their doubts, see her next birthday.
In true Auntie Ann style that’s exactly what she did. Any attempts to celebrate her birthday early were met with an intimidating stare and the comment she would be around to celebrate the real date. I don’t know why I doubted her, I’d known her long enough to know that she always did what she said. So when she was told a minimum of 7 weeks to live but survived16 weeks I should have expected it.
She rallied enough to celebrate her birthday surrounded by family and friends, passing away 2 days after her birthday having delivered on her self imposed challenge.
For us as a family it was a difficult time and we all dealt with her loss in our own way, but we all regularly mentioned hearing Auntie Ann saying “ we can do it”.
It was this that led us to thinking what as a family we could do to honour her memory. Despite most of the family not being very energetic/sporting we decided on something active. Quite where the idea for a 127 mile bike ride came from I have no idea. I also have no idea whether we all said yes or if it just happened because no one said no? However it has happened and we are signed up to doing the 127 mile challenge, having done half of the route as a “trial run” I can definitely say it will be a challenge.
To help us ensure we do it some big incentives were going to be required. That’s where the sponsorship idea came from. What better way to be motivated than to know it’s raising money for research into the illness that took Auntie Ann from us. If that wasn’t enough of an incentive finding out that Brain Tumour charities are some of the worst funded charities certainly was.
So in May this year I, along with other members of my family, will be cycling the Leeds Liverpool canal. Well anyone who knows me will guess we’ll by cycling back to Leeds rather than away from our home city.
We hope our efforts might in some small part improve the future treatment available to others. Maybe it might even mean someone else’s family won’t have to suffer like ours did.
Any help, support and sponsorship will be very much appreciated. All donations are in aid of The Brain Tumour charity and can be made on the link below.