‘I didn’t own a bike before my diagnosis’: One man with terminal cancer’s mission to cycle from Land’s End to John O’Groats

Gaz Emmerson was first diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in 2014, now he's riding to fund research to help future generations of young people

Gareth Emmerson’s GP initially thought he had slipped a disc in 2014, but soon the diagnosis came through that it was Ewing’s Sarcoma in his pelvis – a rare form of bone and soft tissue cancer that primarily affects teenagers and young adults.

The tumour was the size of two tennis balls, but luckily Emmerson responded to treatment. Two years of cancer-free living later, it had come back in his lungs. After beating it again, the cancer returned to his lungs and lymph nodes. Six months after beating it a third time, and receiving a stem cell transplant, the cancer was back again, this time in his brain, lungs, and lymph nodes.

Each time the cancer comes back, it’s more aggressive, and more resistent to treatment, meaning eventually the chemotherapy will stop working.

“Getting that news is obviously devastating and I can’t really put into words how that makes a person feel,” Emmerson said. “Things were looking up, I’d recently bought a house with my fiancée Zoe and I’d been promoted at work and we were really looking forward to our future together. Even though we knew cancer would be a part of it.

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“Now we try not to focus on the future too much, or dwell on my diagnosis. So I sat down pretty much straight away and wrote my bucket list.”

Emmerson got married, travelled to Brazil, Argentina and China, and the next thing on the list was to raise money for Sarcoma UK, in the knowledge that while the development of new drugs to treat the cancer won’t come in time for him, it could potentially save the lives of future generations of young people.

Over 13 days in June, Emmerson will be accompanied by his fiancée Zoe, dad Andy and three friends on a 1,000 mile bike ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

They initially set their fundraising target at £15,500, but after surpassing this in just 45 hours they increased this to £25,000 and at the time of writing have raised over £20,000. Here is the link to donate.

“None of us are cyclists, none of us even owned bikes until this most recent diagnosis but we’re already training hard and I’m really excited about it,” Emmerson said.