Jane, one of our student supporters, tells us why she'll be taking on the Budapest to Zagreb cycle this year, in memory of mum.
In September 2014, mum was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) after a routine mammogram. She'd had no symptoms and the tumor was so diffuse that even the doctors found it hard to locate physically. As TNBC doesn't have the hormone receptors for oestrogen, progesterone or HER2 that are found in many breast cancers, the treatment options are greatly reduced. It’s also more likely to be aggressive. We found out relatively soon after the initial diagnosis that the cancer had already spread to her lungs and was therefore advanced and incurable.
Mum's surgery and radiotherapy treatments were very straightforward and unproblematic, she even managed to go back to work for a day a week. Unfortunately, a break in chemo allowed further spread to a few of her bones. A different type of chemo was recommended this time, which, as before, didn't affect her life too badly. Things seemed relatively stable.
But with cancer you can never get complacent. Chemo can suddenly stop working for no discernible reason and sadly that’s what happened just eight months after starting the new treatment. The tumors had spread far and fast. There were now mets in her liver, abdominal wall, behind the choroid in her right eye and there was widespread metastasis in the brain.
In 2016, I signed up for the London to Paris ride. Mum was determined that I still take part and she always got what she wanted so, at 5am on a grey and rainy Friday 1 July, I set off for the station. I never made it to Paris.
After ringing home at lunchtime on the second day, just over halfway through the ride, it was obvious that mum's condition was deteriorating. The amazing organising team got straight on with finding me a way home and I managed to get the first Eurostar back to London the next morning.
It was disappointing to not be able to finish the ride but I was certain that I had made the right decision. I was home before midday and we had a brilliant and unexpected family celebration for my birthday. Mum died peacefully at home the next evening, surrounded by so many of the people who loved her most.
Why I'm cycling again this year
This year, I’ll be taking on Budapest to Zagreb and putting myself through the agony of saddle sore and hill climbs again for a number of reasons:
- I have unfinished business with charity cycle rides – the Breast Cancer Now team went far above and beyond the call of duty in supporting me this year and I want to thank them.
- Breast Cancer Now has specific projects for improving and developing treatments for triple negative breast cancer so that, hopefully, in the not too distant future, the prospects of someone diagnosed with TNBC won't look quite so bleak.
- For mum. Because she'd want me to do it and she always got what she wanted.
Inspired by Jane's story? Take a look at our student challenge events