It is both an honour and a privilege that, on Sunday August 10th and all being well, I am going to be riding the 'Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100' for Ben Parkhouse and the Children with Cancer UK charity. Children with Cancer UK is the leading national children's charity dedicated to the fight against all childhood cancers. Ben is the 14 year old son of David Parkhouse, my work colleague at Network Rail IP Signalling.
Early December 2013 came with really bad news for Ben as his original leukemia was confirmed as having returned. Since Ben had already endured the highest level of treatment from October 2009 to March 2013 a repeat of this treatment was judged by the specialist consultants as to be fruitless.
As a consequence, the plan is for Ben to undergo a bone marrow transplant at some point this year. This is a tough and risky procedure, however it is judged to be the only realistic option available to him.
David, his wife Lynne and their two daughters gave blood to try to match as potential donors. After an anxious wait the family received good news in that Ben's older sister was confirmed as a match.
However, before the bone marrow transplant can take place the cancer has to be in remission and at the beginning of December 2013 the advice was this could take 3-4 months. During the early part of December, Ben had already undergone quite a lot of surgery and two lots of chemotherapy; and that was in just in one week!! Ben's 14th birthday, Christmas and New Year was spent in hospital; feeling very ill and looking physically quite different with his hair once more lost. The reality of the situation hit him hard; one week he was fine playing with his mates at school and the next this...
In David's first email to his work colleagues, he said 'Ben, my 13 year old ray of sunshine, has unfortunately relapsed with his cancer.
He has been fighting flipping leaukaemia for 4 years now, the last 7 months had been off treatment.'
The news obviously knocked the whole family for six and it came as a big shock to me as well, especially given I have a 13 year old daughter of my own and a 10 year old son, and you think 'there but for the grace of God go I (we)'.
As of the end of February, Ben is nearing completion of his chemotherapy, has had a significant number of operations and any number of very painful injections; I really feel for the young lad!
A date for the bone marrow transplant is yet to be set, though is likely to be April or May of this year.
Again, his father David wrote in early December 'Ben has another long and tough road ahead, but he has fought it once – I am certain he can do it again, an amazing lad.'
On 6th June 2014 Ben lost his battle against leukaemia. His father David said that Ben fought bravely right to the end. Full of energy, determination and an insatiable desire to know about everything Ben was such a character. Bens funeral was a humbling experience and yet at the same time, quite amazing that someone so young could have experienced so much and touched so many people. Clearly, he was much loved by friends and family alike and is clear to me what an amazing person he was. I know that he will be missed but his life should and will be celebrated!!
Compared to the fight Ben had with his leukaemia and so sadly lost, my personal challenge to complete this 100 mile bike ride feels quite insignifcant. However, I am prepared to put myself through a level of pain in attempting to complete the ride in under 4hr30mins (excluding any mechanical mishaps).
Riding in memory of Ben and for Children with Cancer UK will definitely give me a reason to push hard on this and to raise as much money as I can for the charity. A rather staggering 3,600 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK . The charity's aims are to determine the causes, find cures and provide care for children with cancer.
Please sponsor me and give whatever you feel you can part with. The money will help the charity to help kids like Ben.
Many thanks Dave Young
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