In September 2014 my mother lost a brief but painful battle with cancer of the oesophagus . A year later my cousin Emily lost a much longer battle. She was 32 years young and brave to the end. The staff at Velindre hospital and The Royal Marsden (respectively), provided incredible support to both.
However sad these individual stories are, they are by no means unique. Most of us have had some sort of contact with the disease, either through a friend, relative or feeling its long reach directly. I will never ever forget the phone call from my Mum. I was cycling in the French alpine resort of Morzine. She was choked but stoic and determined to beat the disease. 5 weeks later I gave her eulogy.
I hate problems of any type. They never, ever sit easy with me and my mind swiftly pursues solutions. But how do you solve a problem like cancer? Not easily. Not without the concerted efforts of the medical community, scientists and public health bodies. Problem solving on this scale requires significant funding. It requires money for now, the present. Money that will ease the suffering of cancer patients and provide support to the families. It requires money for the medium term, to promote lifestyle choices that reduce cancer risk, anticipate demand for future care and to help develop treatments that will ameliorate symptoms and move us closer to a cure. Finally, it requires money for the long term, with the ultimate objective of eliminating the disease for good.
So I had the idea of ‘Singleminded’ bringing together people who feel passionately about doing the one thing that you and I can: making an active contribution to the battle against cancer. Being a cyclist, the effort revolves around bikes; arguably the one activity that most people can challenge themselves with quite swiftly. Anyone who rides a bike can get involved. Simply ride your bike in an event and ask people to donate to one of – or perhaps all three – of the charities linked to Singleminded which will change each year (please see our justgiving pages). If you want to go the whole hog, you could try riding a single speed bike in the event of your choice. It’ll be tough, but nowhere near as tough as battling against the disease or supporting someone who is. If you choose to go down to one cog make sure you save your knees – and enjoy the descents a bit more – by using a single speed as opposed to a fixie (a ‘single speed’ bike has a freehub, unlike a fixie which doesn’t and is designed to be used on the track).
So far, the response has been fantastic and I’d like to thank everyone who has been supportive. The rider profiles will give you details of friends that have joined in, their personal stories and where they will be riding. The shop page will allow you to buy a jersey or a t-shirt (stocks dependent) and let’s face it, you don’t need to ride an event to wear such a lovely garment (huge thanks to Andrew Purnell for our brilliant logo). The justgiving links will give you control over where your contributions are made.
Just a final note. All of the money raised through Singleminded goes straight to the charities. There are no staff on the payroll of Singleminded. Just people that care.
Simon Nurse, March 2016 (updated Feb 2017)