'Cycling has kept me going': The teen racer pedalling to keep her spirits up during brain tumour treatment

When young racer Evie Hartley noticed a problem with her vision early last year, she could not have anticipated the monumental health battle ahead of her

Brain tumour survivor Evie Hartley
(Image credit: Andy Jones)

"Six months after I’d started cycling, the cyclo-cross season was just beginning, so I thought, why not give it a go?” That would be a brave leap into the unknown at any age, but Evie Hartley – who was just nine at the time – isn’t talking about bravery. She is simply telling me how cycling came to form a central part of her life. “I raced the first season and I came third out of the girls, so that was pretty decent,” she grins. “The next year I won the season.” 

Evie, now 13, is sitting alongside her dad Dave, speaking to me by video call from their home in Ilkeston, Derbyshire. We are here to speak about how Evie has been coping since a life-changing diagnosis last year, and at the outset I’m nervous about asking questions that might be upsetting for her to answer. As soon as the subject is broached, my worries evaporate. “Basically, I started to lose vision in my left eye,” she explains matter-of-factly, recalling the early symptoms from January 2021. “We went to the optician, who sent me to a specialist, and from there I had the MRI scans which found the tumour.” The calm, intelligent way the youngster recounts this terrifying chain of events is not just impressive, it’s humbling. 

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