15 January 2018
I was having a few headaches, and I was having trouble making decisions. They were the only symptoms I had before one night while riding home, I turned down the wrong street. Riding is like second nature to me, and my bike knows its own way home, so I knew that something didn’t feel right.
I went to my GP and had a scan; little did I know that this simple thing would set in motion a quick succession of events leading to my diagnosis. I spent the night in Berri hospital before flying into Adelaide, meeting the surgical team, and undergoing a three-hour operation the very next day to remove the cancer from my brain. That was in June this year, and the average life expectancy for this type of cancer is about 12 months.
I had a friend who went down a similar path a few years ago, and he lasted 10 months, so I was very aware of my situation. Of course it’s not good news, but you just have to get on and live your life. It all happened so quickly, and I didn’t really comprehend what was going on at the time, but when the dust settled I made a conscious decision to stay positive.
After my operation I woke up at four in the morning and realised that I had to get all the rubbish out of my life. All these sayings came into my head, and I just started writing them all down. Reading through them, it helped me to organise my thoughts, to prioritise my feelings and start to sort my life. After all, I knew that I had such a supportive wife and friends around me—what more can you ask for?
While there’s no way to cure it, I am having treatment which targets new brain cell growth. It can reduce but not eliminate the cancer. I’ve had radiation for six weeks, and am currently still going through chemotherapy. Every time they operate, they cut out what they can see, which is about 95 per cent of it, but there will always be that fine root that’s going to remain and continue to grow.
Just as riding was my catalyst for diagnosis, it’s also been my motivation through treatment. A week after my first operation, I asked the surgeon what would happen if I got back on my bike. He told me that I’d be just the same as anyone else, and that was enough for me. My mates were initially a little worried, but now we ride together again like old times.
We ride about one hundred kilometres per week on-road and 30–60km off-road on Sundays. Chemo can make you feel pretty ordinary, but I find that riding actually helps you because you get some of the drugs out of your system, and the endorphins after a ride make you feel good. The way I see it, it’s better than moping around home and feeling sorry for yourself.
It feels really special to be working towards Ride for a reason 2018 as a team. I’m going to keep riding for as long as I can and will hopefully be able to take part in the event in January.
Now in its 10th year, Ride for a reason has raised over $4 million for cancer research, prevention and support through Cancer Council SA. Cyclists participating in the Santos Tour Down Under’s Bupa Challenge Tour can register to Ride for a reason, raising funds and gathering sponsorship to ride the same course as the professionals. To find out more about the Berri Bike Boys and support their 2018 ride for Kevin, visit their fundraising page.