I first met Caitlin when she came into Le Knicks looking for some new knicks. Not long after chatting to her I learnt of the reason she started cycling.
She has only been cycling for just over a month and her goal was bigger than anything I would have considered taking on in my first year of cycling.
Here is her story;
Last year my cousin Conor tragically passed away from neuroblastoma cancer, aged just 17. This rare form of cancer affects 1 in 100,000 children. Neuroblastoma is a cancerous tumor that develops from cells called neuroblasts that are found in the nerve tissues of the body.
In 2002, when Conor was four, he was diagnosed with stage IV Neuroblastoma. He was given six months chemotherapy followed by a bone marrow transplant and 25 radiotherapy sessions before he was finally given the all clear. When he was nine, Conor was officially declared cancer free and remained that way for 10 years.
At 14, in April 2012, Conor relapsed with stage IV Neuroblastoma, and was told his chance of survival was 5%. He didn't give up. Conor embarked on two years of rigorous treatments, all of which were different to what he had received in 2002. In addition to his chemo-radiotherapy, he also underwent MIBG treatment and a second bone marrow transplant before once again Conor was in remission. This led to Conor being able to receive the latest immunotherapy. Conor was yet again officially declared in remission in March 2014- a remarkable achievement for anyone with this disease.
After completing his treatment Conor was carefully monitored every 3 months, but after only 8 months, he relapsed again. He was the first child to have his tumour tested for any markers that could be targeted using new molecular targeted therapies in the hope that this would beat the disease once and for all. This led Conor to also be the first child in Europe to trial the latest drug that had just become available in Ireland from the USA. However due to the sneaky and unpredictable nature of Neuroblastoma, the drug had little effect and Conor passed away aged 17 on the 3rd of July 2015.
The Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation’s Mission:
The Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation (CFNCRF) was set up to continue to discover and pioneer ground breaking new treatments. The ultimate goal is to find a potential cure for Neuroblastoma
Last year after being hit by a skier in an accident, I broke my back. The hardest part for me was not being able to do things that I loved or that kept my spirits high. Two years later, I can still feel the pain every day. I imagine that this is only a pin drop in the ocean of what Conor and his family fought through. A few months ago, I was sitting down writing an essay when I thought of Conor, my dreams and what his dreams may have been. At that moment, I decided to try to take his spirit with me on my next adventure and show him a part of the world that he wanted to see.
I would like to raise money for his foundation by riding the South Island of New Zealand from Nelson to Queenstown. The ride is 821km. I am going to bring my beloved analogue camera to photograph the journey. From there, I plan to have an exhibition, sell the prints and donate all proceeds.
I have decided to ride because it's far too easy to pack up, jump in a car and drive down a freeway. Life can be a lot similar; driving at 100km an hour. It can flash before your eyes and then you're at the end. I think we sometimes forget what's important to us or may not take enough time to really grab hold of the simple things, that in hindsight can give us so much joy and satisfaction. I’m not an experienced cyclist. In fact, I had never been on a road bike before training for this fundraiser. Conor who fought for the majority of his life, has inspired me to challenge myself.
I know Conor and every other precious soul taken too early would give anything just to take the time to feel their lungs fill with the purity of the wilderness, feel their legs spin the wheels of a bike pushing past all the beauty this universe has to offer.
You can join me!
Help my ride for research by donating today. I am purchasing the bike and equipment myself, along with travel costs. Therefore, every dollar donated will go straight to The Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation.
To find out more information about The Conor Foley Neuroblastoma Cancer Research Foundation
We are very excited to follow Caitlin's adventure across New Zealand. Make sure you follow her adventures through our Instagram @le_knicks
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