Adam Van Cleef was 23, and had synovial sarcoma. This was his second battle with cancer. When he was 14, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, from which he was successfully treated.
His second diagnosis was a shock. He had lived without cancer for a number of years, and then was faced with it again. As a family, one of our first questions was, ‘Where did it come from?’ One doctor answered, ‘It’s simply bad luck.’ We now know that this cancer was caused by the radiotherapy he received to treat his first cancer...
Synovial sarcoma is a soft tissue tumour, that, at the time of Adam's diagnosis, had no cure. He endured several cycles of aggressive chemotherapy, and surgery was attempted. However, the tumour couldn't be removed. So Adam’s future was to have more chemo to contain the cancer…
But Adam’s story is not about the cancer, or the ‘bad luck’ of having it strike twice. It is not about the ingenuity of medical science, nor its limitations. His story is about how he lived and endured. And in this he was supported by so much love: wife, family, friends, and his absolute trust in God.
He lived despite his cancer. He continued studies at university. He was the captain of a university fencing team, and though he couldn’t compete because of cancer, he loved to encourage his team and see them do their best. He met with friends, he was involved with his church, he played music (violin, and guitars), and, because of his deep love for Rachel, they got married… His life didn’t stop. Each day a gift. Each day an opportunity for him to bless others.
He hoped for healing. We hoped for healing, a miracle. That is a natural desire for anyone with cancer, and for their families. However, what we had hoped for with Adam did not come to pass. Adam’s health deteriorated rapidly, and he entered into the resurrection life of Jesus on 19 June 2018. He was with some of those he loved most, and he continued to exhibit tremendous courage, great faith, and love. Cancer did not defeat him—he embraced God’s love for him and entered into a greater mystery…
My brother-in-law, Mark, and I are fund raising for Cancer Research partly because of our abiding love for Adam, and also because we have seen how cancer treatment has developed even in the few years between his cancers. And we know that treatments are improving all the time, and that there will be a day when cancer is conquerable.
To help make that happen, we aim to raise £100,000 for Cancer Research, and specifically, for sarcoma research. Our initial target was £25,000, which we exceeded. And then we were challenged by a lady we met in Lockerbie while cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End. She had survived cancer, and was committed to raising £100,000 for Cancer Research in her lifetime.
By the end of effort, we will have cycled 5,000 miles (not including training), through 3 countries, with the hope of seeing an end to cancer.
Our first event was cycling from John O'Groats, Scotland, to Land's End, Cornwall. We completed this in September 2018, and raised over £30,000.
Our second event was cycling the Camino de Santiago, a 500 mile pilgrimage route starting in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, France, and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. We completed this ride on 13 September 2019.
The third event will be a big effort: Originally scheduled for August 2020, we have postponed this ride for one year (because of issues with coronavirus), and now will start on 23 August 2021, we will cycle from New York City to Chicago, and from Chicago follow the historic Route 66 to Santa Monica, California. We will cover over 3,400 miles.
In the meantime, we keep training, and are looking at cycling the North Coast 500, a clockwise route starting in Inverness, and cycling around the rugged Scottish coasts and Highlands. We'll confirm dates in due course.
Visit www.ridingforadam.com for more information.
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We are able to do these events because we have incredible people supporting us, not least our respective wives. Without Penny or Karen our lives would be greatly diminished!
We will be doing all we can to reach our target, and for that we need your generous giving. Please consider sponsoring us as we play a small part in bringing an end to cancer.