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Cycling To A Recovery From Lymphoblastic Leukaemia

Getting sick? Get on the bike.

I’ve published a few articles from older cyclists who have found cycling to be a great way to recovery from an illness. How much of the recovery is due to the exercise or how much is due to the better mental outlook that comes from regular exercise like cyling, well who knows. But I keep hearing stories about how getting on the bike has helped in recovery from serious illness.

Today I received an email from Scott Davies. He’s certainly had a serious illness, lymphoblastic leukaemia. And now he’s a cyclist.

Here’s Scott’s story:

Hi Peter

My name is Scott, I think my story may inspire a few folk to consider the benefits of the fantastic activity that is cycling.

In March 2016, right out of the blue, I was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. It’s a fast acting blood cancer which had been in my system for an unknown number of weeks before it was discovered. With no time to waste I was admitted to my local haematology department to begin treatment right away.

At the start of the process the outlook was pretty clear, if I responded to treatment I had a 50% chance of pulling through. The treatment consisted of a number of approaches, chemotherapy was the main strategy. I got really sick and really tired as the toxins were pumped into my system.

I had various amounts from a daily dose to weekly infusions. I was prepped up four months later to receive a full bone marrow transplant in August 2016.

Scott Davies, recovering cyclist

A couple of nervous weeks and loads of tests later, it was confirmed that my transplant had been successful. I was then allowed to go home to help recovery. It was September 2016, the disease had claimed five months of my time and turned my life on its head. However I was still here.

During my weeks in hospital, whilst I was getting treated I had lots of support from family and friends which was fantastic. On one friend visit I had what could be described as a personal game changer.

Alan suggested I try some reading material to help the time pass. I was given a book written by the American cyclist Lance Armstrong, titled “It’s not about the bike”.

I had no preconceived ideas as to its contents, I was vaguely aware of his story, relating to him recovering from cancer and then going on to win the Tour de France.

As I began to turn the pages and the story began to unfold I became more inspired and in awe of the guy’s motivation and strength of character.

Over a period of time I reread the book three more times.  Eventually I realised that actually I would like to give cycling a try when I got home.

The other side of the treatment that was making me slowly better was that I was losing lots of muscle body weight in confinement to a hospital bed. I had lost 70lbs and most of my strength.

In fact on release from hospital all I could do was walk to the first streetlight from my house and back, a distance of 100 yards. it would then take me an hour or two to recover. I would then do it again.

After a number of weeks slowly gaining basic walking strength my distances improved. I was determined to hang onto my dream of being able to be strong enough to cycle.

Christmas 2016 saw my family club together to get me a bike, the first one I had owned in thirty years, it was a pivotal moment in my journey.

It sat in the garage, cleaned, oiled and ready to go for many weeks. It was spring before I chanced a short ride out. I managed less than half a mile before getting off and pushing it back home.

I was however undaunted, the next day I repeated the ride, but it was actually on the tenth ride out I was able to start and finish the ride at home. A distance of a mile was an accomplishment at the time.

Time thankfully has moved on, my strength and fitness is improving. I can manage daily rides now usually covering around 25-30 miles. It has been a long journey back to life with some obstacles still to overcome but I am looking forward to continuing my development as a 49 year old cyclist (middle aged man in Lycra).

My goal is to complete a sportive ride before I’m 50. Wish me luck !

I certainly wish Scott luck. What an inspiring story of triumph. Great work Scott. Let us know when you do that Sportive.

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