On June 10th I’ll be attempting to cycle 100km (that’s around 62 miles in old money) around London in support of Brain Tumour UK. You can give money here.
Partly of course, this is a middle-aged man’s attempt to pretend that the years are having no effect on me (I turn 50 the following month), but the main reason for doing this is to raise lots of money to help fight the thing that killed my best friend.
Jeff Dodds was also 50 when he died last summer. In Spring 2010 he was having trouble with his sight and the doctors were unsure of the cause, but when he had a seizure in July of that year and was given an MRI, a tumour was discovered. This turned out to be a grade IV glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain tumour that you can get. (Jeff was never one to do things by halves.)
He went through brain surgery to have the thing cut out, then radiotherapy and chemotherapy and seemed to be doing well, but the damn thing came back (as they almost always do). More surgery wasn’t an option this time; he’d had a lifetime’s dose of radiation the previous winter so the radiotherapy was out; chemo was palliative only. He died on July 5th.
I’d known Jeff for 30 years, he was my best man and I his, I’m godfather to his eldest daughter. He was absurdly popular and incredibly funny, and the world is a quieter, less colourful place without him.
When he talked about the randomness of getting such a tumour (”lottery winning odds”) he’d say that the significant question is not ”why me?”, but ”why not me?”. We don’t know why brain tumours strike and why some people get them, but they’re bloody horrible things. It’s extremely unlikely that you or someone you know will get one – but 16,000 people in the UK do every year and for the more aggressive types of tumour the prognosis is poor. Money is needed for research and money is needed to support sufferers and their families. Brain Tumour UK offers resources, and support and information for those affected by brain tumours; funds research and supports campaigns for further research, better care and for treatments.
I’m trying to raise at least £500 for the charity by cycling 62 miles around London at night. I’m a middled-aged man with no previous track record of strenuous activity. I may have to wear lycra. You can make your contribution here.