It has been an astonishing start to 2014.
180 LifeCycle miles in week 1 followed by 144 more in week 2 (w2 was only a four day working week otherwise we’d be looking at back to back 180’s) have taken the project onto a whole new level as the days inch out by a minute morning and night.
But let’s take a pause for a moment…
A child is diagnosed with Neuroblastoma (on average) every 3 days in the UK. #Fact
LifeCycle is delivering 100 miles (on average) on those same 3 days. #Fact
That’s 100 pence of potential lifesaving support for a child, every 3 days. #Fact
But there’s a problem…
The rate of support amongst my friends, my work colleagues, my Facebook friends and my Twitter followers is way, way worse than even the survival rate given to the families of the worst affected.
Facebook Friends 3%
Twitter Followers 1%
Those are the raw numbers. That is the raw truth. That is the prognosis for the LifeCycle patient: a delivery to wellness rate of around 2%.
That is a reflection on the society in which we live.
But as every affected child facing up to an uncertain future knows that the odds are stacked against them, LifeCycle draws strength from adversity which presents itself by way of hardship and the duration of the programme.
From start to finish, LifeCycle is a 1668 day project. This is day 148. That’s roughly speaking 9% of the way through the course. The mileage target is 25,000 miles, which is further than the distance round the world at the equator. Today, the miles stand at 2769 which represents a healthy 11% of target: on course you might say. But back at the start I dreamed the impossible dream and set the Neuroblastoma target at £100,000…
Houston, we have a problem: funding is currently running at only 0.5% of the target.
We need backup!
To those compassionate, charitable souls who are chucking their pound in every week, or their fiver on pay day, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. But to the other 97% of folk out there who are reading this and thinking “nice idea but I think I’d rather have another can of juice”, I ask you, plead with you, to think again. One day, this might be your child, your relative’s child, your friend’s child, or your child’s best friend, or your best friend’s friend’s friend. Neuroblastoma does not discriminate according to the weather. It doesn’t just happen on nice days, it happens every third day. There have been two new cases diagnosed this week, perhaps one even while I am writing this blog.
But LifeCycle does not discriminate either. The road is long; the road is hard; the road is hilly and the road is bumpy. It’s also windy and the road is wet.
But the journey goes on.
When I was cycling home last night, and strangely enough not getting soaked, which made it a first for this week, my mind wandered back to October 1983 and how the events of one particular weekend helped shape my vision of how this project is going to pan out…
I had (very) recently split from a relationship and I was an athlete, an endurance athlete at that (hint alert). I stayed in Cumbernauld and every year Action Research promoted The Cumbernauld 24 Hour Marathon Walk. I’d never done it: I’d never even thought of doing it. It was something that other people did, just like supporting the LifeCycle project is something other people do. I had run two marathons that summer, a debut run in scorching heat at Loch Rannoch followed by a less than noble effort up in Caithness. However in the week prior to the Marathon Walk, I toyed with the idea of giving it a go to take my mind of other things. 102 miles later, my knee was wrecked, my feet were wrecked and my ability to move like a normal human being was pretty much wrecked too. But inside, a spirit was born. Those 24 hours (it was nearer 21 actually) taught me that time is immaterial: it gets dark and it then gets light again: the challenge is to stay the course, through the darkness and emerge in one piece out the other side. It has been dark since October and maybe, just maybe, those wee chinks of light at the end of the day are the difference between success and another outcome altogether that we don’t talk about.
My eldest son thinks I’ll be done with LifeCycle by March. That’s exactly the kind of motivation I need to see me through the long summer nights till it all kicks in again. When you are me, there is no greater incentive to finish the job than have your very own come up to you and say “you know what, dad, you’re not gonna do this”.
Son, watch me!
To everyone out there who has a dream, an impossible dream, go do it, go make it happen, because if you don’t, you will go down in history along with the 98% of everyone out there who couldn’t be arsed.
And so to Monday…