Walking the icy lanes on the moors above the beautiful town of Haworth, I reflected on the last six months of this incredible journey I’ve been on. I use the word “incredible” wisely, as events have taken a more than unusual twist since the accident in Rimouski, Canada, which was the catalyst for all that followed. It seems now there is more likelihood of me falling on the ice and breaking a leg, than there is me dying of lung cancer.
If you think that’s all a bit dramatic, then consider this: five months ago I was fortunate enough to be taken in by Mike in Toronto. I was not well at the time and remember the visit we took to the Royal Museum, where I struggled to climb the wooden stairs. When I say struggled, I’m talking not being able to breathe well enough to physically climb the stairs, without stopping numerous times. Then there was my trip to the Cabot Trail with Hilke and another friend, where I elected to stay in the car and sit out the trail walk, because I knew I could not complete it.
I genuinely believed I was reaching the end of not just my journey, but my life.
So what happened? The honest answer is I really don’t know, but felt it was time to tell the story anyway. My dislocated shoulder (the result of the accident in Rimouski) meant I was never going to be able to comfortably ride the bike again, having it fixed in Canada was way beyond my means, so I knew I was always likely to return to England. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to have myself checked out and actually find what the status of my illness was. So leaving Canada behind, I made my way to New York City and a flight home. That however is not the full story. Along the way I fell in love and my whole world (and life) was suddenly turned upside down.
My first indication that something was wrong (or right?) was when we stopped off at a friend of Mike’s on my way to New York. Judy is an ‘alternative’ therapist and told me I no longer had lung cancer! I was very sceptical, but kind enough not to express my doubts at this time, though I had seen an improvement in my breathing which did seem at odds with my expectations. On my return to England I had my first series of scans, before returning to The Netherlands shortly afterwards. I would have to wait for the results, but never expected to be asked to return again to the UK to have yet more tests, because the scans showed no sign of the tumours present in 2012, when I’d originally left the UK to begin my trip.
My second trip to England confirmed the initial results, but I also had biopsies of my prostate and x-rays/CT scans of my shoulder, so that an operation could possibly be scheduled for April/May this year. In truth, I would never have bothered with this as I thought the time left to me could be better spent. My motivation for going through with it now is because I want to spend time with my girlfriend; there has been a surprising improvement in my health and the hope is I can return to cycle touring after my operation.
So where does this leave me now?
Well I’m once again back in The Netherlands, where I will try and learn Dutch and find some work if possible. I will do some short tours, but nothing major until after the shoulder is fixed. I can’t explain why instead of deteriorating, I’m now actually getting fitter day by day. All I can say is I have never been this happy for many years, I’m very much in love and if I’m truly honest, I think this is the main reason why I’m doing so well – I actually have something to look forward to, a reason to want to be here and it looks like I’m going to be around longer than anybody expected.
When I do return to cycle touring, I will not be alone. 🙂