“I wanted to give something back after my bowel cancer treatment”

After receiving vital treatment for bowel cancer at The Royal Marsden, Francis decided to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity – by taking on the Ride London 100-mile challenge.

Francis wearing a white Charity t-shirt and gold medal, smiling
Francis after taking part in Ride London 2023

Francis, an avid cyclist, was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2022.

He was referred to The Royal Marsden where he underwent chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy on the Cedar Linac machine, state-of-the-art equipment which is supported by funding from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. The machine works by targeting cancer tumours with pinpoint precision to deliver radiotherapy. 

"I was on holiday with my wife and one evening I got sick. I thought I’d picked up a bug and didn’t think too much about it. But the diarrhoea didn’t clear up and two months later my wife suggested I go to the GP. The GP ran some tests and referred me for a colonoscopy.

"Further scans and screening confirmed a diagnosis of bowel cancer. My initial reaction was that I just needed to get on and deal with it."

Bowel cancer treatment at The Royal Marsden

Francis in hospital gown standing next to hospital bed and equipment. A nurse is adjusting the equipment..

“I was referred to The Royal Marsden for treatment and underwent five weeks of chemotherapy and a course of radiotherapy on the Cedar Linac machine (which is funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity). I’d come in every morning for my radiotherapy, and at the same time I was also taking chemotherapy in tablet form – so I was able to do this part of my treatment at home.

"It was a very positive, friendly atmosphere at the hospital. I actually found it very relaxing. Everyone would always say ‘good morning!’ It was quite a nice start to the day! 

"The actual process of having radiotherapy was very quick, it just felt like having an X-Ray. It didn’t hurt or anything."

I’d cycle to work after my treatment and be in the office by 10am most days!

“I was able to cope well with the treatment side effects, and I continued to go to work as normal. I’d cycle to work after my treatment and be in the office by 10am most days!

“One of my oncologists said to me, right at the beginning of my diagnosis, that it was really important that I try and stay active. I did exactly that and kept cycling throughout my treatment and did some swimming too.

“I appreciate everything the Cedar Linac team did for me, their professionalism and their smiling faces, empathy and humanity. From receptionists and cleaners to the consultants, registrars, in fact the whole team, everyone always has a smile, and a very positive attitude pervades the hospital."

Five people sat around a dinner table, smiling
Francis (second from left), celebrating Christmas with his family

Scans showed a reduction in the size of Francis’s tumours, and he underwent further treatment before having surgery to remove them in October 2023. He continues to recover well.

In May last year, Francis took on the Ride London 100-mile cycle challenge, raising an amazing £3,000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Taking part in Ride London

“I wanted to set myself a challenge while being ill, something to keep me motivated and keep fit. I also wanted to support The Royal Marsden as a way of giving something back, after the treatment and care I’ve received from the teams at the hospital.

Torso of Francis in white Charity shirt and grey cycle helmet. Other cyclists are in the background.
Francis taking part in Ride London 2023

“I was a little bit apprehensive at the beginning and thought I would opt for the 30-mile route. But I got past this mark and the next option was to carry on to the 50-mile route. I got past this mark too and carried on right to the end of the 100-mile finish line. Despite the fact I was undergoing cancer treatment, I actually completed the cycle in a faster time than the year before – I was half an hour quicker!

“It felt really nice taking part to support a Charity that I have such a personal connection to.

"I don’t know what my treatment would have looked like about 50 years ago, I can’t imagine it would have been anything like it is now and the outcomes would perhaps not have been as good either. Anything people can do to fundraise and support this cause is so worthwhile.

"It felt quite emotional when I got to the end and passed the finish line – to give something back to the hospital after what they’ve done for me.”

Help us to support more people like Francis

Take on a fundraising event like Ride London and help raise vital funds for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Your support ensures more people like Francis will have access to vital equipment. 

Find out more and sign up to Ride London. 

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