Cancer survivor cheers on 600-mile cyclists

By Chris Were   |   Reporter   |
Sunday 3rd July 2022 6:00 am
@ChrsWr
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A cancer survivor from Herefordshire has sent a message of support to cyclists riding through the county on a 600-mile challenge, for the charity helping her on the road to recovery.

A team of nine riders is tackling the gruelling Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust’s “Brighter Futures” cycle challenge, from the west coast of Scotland to the Isle of Wight, with the aim of completing a route between the charity’s bases over eight days.

Having started in Largs on Friday, June 17, the determined cyclists comprising of supporters and young people, who have benefited from the charity’s work, left Wilmslow in Cheshire on Monday for Ironbridge, and are due to arrive in Symonds Yat on Wednesday, June 22.

Local resident Rebecca Shaw, who was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma in 2016, has been following their progress after taking part in an outdoor pursuits taster day with the trust. The experience gave Rebecca a chance to try dinghy sailing, climbing and canoeing and she is now looking forward to a sailing trip from Largs with the trust at the end of August.

The Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust inspires young people aged 8-24 to believe in a brighter future living through and beyond cancer. For many young people, picking up where they left off before their diagnosis isn’t possible. When treatment ends, the trust’s work begins.

Through the trust’s sailing and outdoor activities, young people meet others who have had similar experiences, rediscover independence away from home, experience an increased sense of purpose and self-worth, and begin to realise what they are capable of again.

Rebecca said: “It was nice to make new friends and it got me used to being on the water and excited about going to Largs, and gave me a bit of confidence around what to expect on the trip. When I first heard about the trust during treatment, I’d never been sailing before or thought of doing it, so to be able to do something out of my own comfort zone sounded fun. When I got ill, I found myself doing a lot of things I never thought I’d do because it was a moment to reflect on what I had and hadn’t done in my life, even though I was only 17.”

Originally hoping to do three A levels, Rebecca had to re-evaluate as she struggled to combine studying with treatment, and after successfully passing a single A level in maths, was able to access a foundation year at the University of South Wales and then a degree in forensic science.

During her time at university, Rebecca needed another two stem cell transplants following relapses and due to complications lost three months of memory. Covid then arrived and Rebecca was back at home again. Having missed out on so much, she opted for a further year in education and is now studying for a masters in analytical and forensic science, and is looking forward to sailing with the trust.

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