Melissa had a very personal reason for taking part in the London to Paris Cycle ride earlier this year. As a breast cancer survivor she knows just how important our work is. Read her story.
I am one of the lucky ones to have survived my fight with breast cancer and I am forever thankful for the medical treatment, care, support and research that helped save my life almost nine years ago.
I was 24 when I discovered the lump under my left armpit that was initially dismissed by my doctor. Having no family history of breast cancer and as I was young fit and healthy, they did not have any concern for me. However, after a month and there being no change, I returned to the doctors and asked to be referred to the Breast Institute.
This decision saved my life as just two weeks after that I was diagnosed with HER2 positive breast cancer and the journey I then endured consisted of operations, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other anti-hormone medicines.
Fortunately I have received the all clear every year since and have been able to continue to live the life I knew and loved.
Over the last seven years I have physically pushed myself to take part in various challenges to raise money for the charity that undoubtedly are one of the reasons I survived and has now become so close to my heart. So when I received the correspondence advertising the London to Paris cycle ride – of 300 miles in four days – I signed up and jumped on board.
I wanted to contribute to raising vital funds and promote awareness to give others the hope that I was given.
I am privileged to have a strong support network and have been given endless love, support and encouragement over the years. My family and friends have been there for me throughout the tough and, more importantly, the very happy times and when my good friend Emma heard about my latest quest she too signed up so that we could achieve it together.
We weren’t expecting it to be easy as neither of us were cyclists, but being pushed out of our comfort zones and for the cause that meant so much to us made us all the more determined.
We were so overwhelmed with all the encouragement and support that we have received from local businesses, strangers and of course our close friends, family and colleagues. They have all been so generous and have helped us raise more than £6,000.
Three committed months of hard training then commenced before we nervously headed to London to embark on our mission. The event was ran by Adventure Challenges and was really well organised and we immediately felt in safe hands of the crew. The whole experience was one that we will never forget and albeit at times it was tough, with rain, headwinds, hills and little injuries, the sense of achievement and togetherness with all the other participants on a similar journey outweighed it all.
When we reached the Eiffel Tower after cycling into Paris as a peloton of 19 we felt brilliant. We knew we had achieved this together, made everyone we know proud and having completed it would be helping the men and women of our future.
We are two ordinary girls – one who had a battle with breast cancer, the other being by her side at all times – but together we are stronger and together we can make a difference. I believe that the same strength and determination that got me through my illness got me through this challenge and would totally recommend others to get in the saddle and experience it.
The memories and friends we made will be with us forever and now we are back I think we actually enjoyed every minute of it. Or almost every minute!
“You may search for the richest treasure; you may search tho’ the world may end. But find nothing more worth having, than the love of a faithful friend”.
Take on the London to Paris cycle challenge
Has Melissa’s blog inspired you to take on this iconic capital to capital challenge and raise money for Breast Cancer Now? Take a look at our London to Paris event page and find out how you can be part of our team.