A sense of excitement and the illicit. Public disdain and great expense. Severe physical discomfort and a threat to life and limb.
And while I’m not about to take up ciggies, I have rolled on the lycra nappy and the backwards tap shoes in the belief that while smoking causes cancer, cycling can help beat it.
At the age of 10, my son Manning was diagnosed with a highly aggressive sarcoma. An enormous tumour growing inside his chest wall. Suddenly the whole family was spinning.
As I bunkered down with him in the hospital grinding through days of chemotherapy my younger sister Belle, a nurse, was desperate to do something to help.
She came up with a fundraising plan. She and two friends, also nurses, would cycle from Sydney to Forster over three days to raise money for The Children’s Hospital.
And so 3Days 300ks was born. This March 18, 2016, riders will be clipping in just north of Sydney and heading up the highway all of them Everyday Heroes, fundraising for Redkite, the children’s cancer charity that first embraced us when we landed in hospital. Myself among them, now an official Redkite Ambassador.
Watching eagerly from the sideline as we ride off will be my son Manning and husband Ryan and six-year-old daughter Lauren. Manning, now aged 12, is in remission, enjoying high school and as cheeky. He still has PET scans every three months and we remain vigilant but thankfully have got through the biggest hurdle.
My energies are now devoted to raising money for Redkite and by giving back to the community, I’m able to make sense of the trauma and do something positive that can truly help others.
With just one week of training time left, I know it’s going to hurt. It already has. But when I tremble at the thought of pedalling to the top of Mount George, north of Gosford, NSW, I remember my little boy recovering from surgery.
An epidural in his spine to block the pain from missing ribs and a severed lung. He was hounded out of bed by his doctors. If he didn’t stay upright the remaining lung would not reinflate and he would have to go back under the knife.
It was nearly a week before the biopsy report was back and Jonty our surgeon came to tell us the glorious news. He’d gotten clear margins on the tumour. Manning had a fighting chance.
Redkite exists to ensure every kid diagnosed with cancer has a fighting chance.
I hope you’ll come on this jouney with us because It turns out road cycling is rather wonderful, and like smoking, it’s highly addictive. You just need to stay upright.
The Carousel would like to thank Susanne Latimore, who is an experienced journalist and television anchor, for her article. Susanne was part of the team that launched Sky News in Australia. She also is a proud Redkite Ambassador.
You can continue to follow Susanne’s journey on The Carousel or click here to donate