UPDATE: Mark has started his blog for Singletrackworld. You can keep following it from the front page blog links or you can bookmark this URL – http://www.singletrackworld.com/blogs/author/petesgaff/ (please pass around this URL and spread the word!)
The Singletrack World forum can be a strange place. The simple question of what tyres a person needs will never be answered despite three pages of posts and it often makes you wonder if people find time to ride bikes inbetween all the arguing about them.
However, it is a place where some pretty special things can happen and a real sense of community can arise. The longest ever thread we’ve had on the forum is a pretty special case of this – the title probably gives the seriousness away: ‘I think I’m about to be diagnosed with cancer, and I’m fairly scared’. It’s sometimes heavy reading but the courage shown by the thread’s poster and forum regular Mark ‘petesgaff’ Fradgley and the support given by so many is rather special to see. We’ll leave it to Mark to explain in his own words:
My name is Mark Fradgley. I’m a 33 year old teacher, living near Tunbridge Wells in Kent with my wife Megan and my dog. We live in a funny little wooden cottage with a garden that refuses to be tamed.
I have cardiac and skeletal angiosarcoma. I was diagnosed with it after many months of ‘not feeling right’, when tests showed that I had a tumour in the right atrium of my heart, and several lesions in my pelvis, spine and sternum.
A surgeon at St Thomas’ Hospital in London excised the tumour from my heart and replaced it with bovine tissue; hence the term Bullheart’. I walked out three days later and have since been annoying the Oncology team at the Royal Marsden since!
Unfortunately, sarcoma is an incredibly aggressive type of cancer; and mine is one of the rarest in the world; there is no cure, and most folk die fairly quickly as it has an astonishing mortality rate.
It would be wrong to state that I’m not scared of dying. To be honest, I’m fairly terrified! But I’m not the type of person to roll over and give up; My magnificent wife, my family and close friends have all commented on how my belligerence and bullish nature will benefit the situation. And you know what? I don’t fancy going yet. I’ve too much to live for. So I’m going to fight for it. Because if anyone can beat the odds on this, I can.
So I decided, as part of my rehabilitation, to complete a cycle ride from John O’Groats to Lands End. And I felt that combining this with fundraising for Sarcoma UK would be the most appropriate action. Sarcoma UK are a hard-working organisation affiliated to The Sarcoma Trust, a registered charity.Sarcoma UK’s objectives are to publish information about sarcoma, develop support services for patients, develop educational opportunities for professionals and patients, and to empower patients as representatives and advocates working for the benefit of all patients.
I’m not the only one to take part in this adventure. I have a small group of committed individuals that have agreed to participate. Two have no choice; alas, as wife (Megan) and sister (Laura) they have to back me or face the music… The other is James – to be fair, I have no idea why he’d put himself through this, but I’m grateful all the same! I’m not sure I’d be able to do this without any of them, so when you think of me, remember I’m just part of a team. Thank you guys.
Life is an important gift. Every minute we spend on this earth is a privilege; not a right. I gave my word when I found out that I was ill that I would do two things. I would do all I can to help those with sarcoma through fundraising. And I wouldn’t give up. Ever.”
If you’d like to support Mark, he has a Just Giving page HERE.