The Great Cycle Challenge is deceptively attractive on the outside. Pick your own kilometre target, and you’re given the luxury of a month to achieve it. Sounds like an easy way to raise money for kid’s cancer research, right?
Well, it’s the 21st and I’ve been for five rides. Five. I’m making the game tougher… The regular reader of my blog will know that I like to take the longest time imaginable to do the easiest task, so this morning’s planned 50 turned into a hurried 20.
I snuck in 25km in Melbourne during a work trip last week – more on that in my next instalment – and I may sneak in another 30 on Friday. The weekend isn’t looking great, though, so I’m going to have to ride to work (part-way, anyway) next week.
Now with the terrible NSW bushfires just to the west of us, the sky has turned grey with soot and smoke, and outdoor exercise is not recommended.
In the meantime, I’m awed and humbled to report that your donations have smashed through the $1900 barrier, thanks to a ridiculously generous donation from my mates at Fiat-Chrysler. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Will I make 500 this month? It’ll be tough. I may have to round up some accomplices…
A quick word in praise of the peeps behind the Challenge, too including my mate Greg Johnson; the website and ride app are working faultlessly, and it’s making all of the rider’s jobs that much easier. Salud, lads.
Darkness, both physical and mental. That’s what I remember about our first moment in Ward C2 West at Sydney Children’s Hospital. As a patient whose immune system is in a depressed state, Max – full name Maxim Timothy, medical ID number 91803 – is given a large room to himself, isolated from the rest of the kid’s cancer ward.
It’s a small blessing; even if we carried comprehensive health insurance, we wouldn’t get a room anything like it. The nurses, lavender-swathed ghosts in the gloom, are welcoming, calming this panicked parent as we start night one of a long stay.
The next day is awful. There’s no other way to put it. It’s the day that we learn that Max has acute lymphoblastic leukaemia; a disease of the blood where Max’s bone marrow produces far too many white blood cells far too quickly. These cells are immature, and essentially useless at their key job – maintaining Max’s immunity.
The long-term prognosis from the oncologist is positive, but until you sit in a hospital room set aside specifically for the purpose of telling parents that their child has cancer, it’s impossible to relay the sense of terror and hopelessness that pervades every fibre of your being. Mel and I hold hands as Dr Richard Cohn breaks the news. She cries. I can’t. Not yet, anyway.
That same day, Max is wheeled into theatre for the first of many, many procedures that will take place in the next… however long it was. From memory, it was to take a sample of marrow from a hip bone as a baseline read. Lumbar punctures – the good ol’ spinal tap, in other words – would also become a regular part of Max’s treatment process, where spinal fluid is checked for the presence of cancer cells. I watched Max go in for that first procedure – I think Mel had left for the day – and for the first time in a couple of days, I was alone. No doctors, no nurses, no one. And it struck me full-force. My little boy has cancer. What now?