Adam Van Cleef was 23, and had synovial sarcoma. This was his second battle with cancer. When he was 14, he was diagnosed with B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma, from which he was successfully treated.
Adam's second diagnosis was a shock. Faced with cancer again, one of the first questions was, ‘Where did it come from?’ One doctor answered, ‘It’s simply bad luck.’ We know now that the sarcoma 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. All treatment, be it chemo or surgery, would be prohibitive rather than curative, so Adam's clinical future was chemo and hopeful prolonging of life...
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 faith, hope 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 because of our abiding love for Adam, and because we have seen how cancer treatments have developed and improved because of continuing research. We also share Cancer Research UK's hope of seeing 3 out of 4 survive cancer by 2034.
To help make that happen, we aim to raise £250,000 for Cancer Research, and specifically for sarcoma research, by completing several cycling events that will take us through three countries, covering over 5,500 miles (not including training!), 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.
We recently completed the North Coast 500, cycling 500 miles through the Highlands and North-West coast of Scotland (as we had to postpone our USA ride).
Our final ride will be a big effort: from New York City to Chicago, and from Chicago, following historic Route 66, to Santa Monica, California. We will cover over 3,400 miles, through 11 states, and we start on 23 August 2021.
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!
At this point we need to say a huge 'thank you' to Jordan Banjo, who appeared on ITV's Celebrity Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? and won £125,000 for Riding for Adam/Cancer Research UK. So, we've increased our target, and will be doing all we can to reach it. Please consider sponsoring us as we play a small part in bringing an end to cancer.
Visit www.ridingforadam.com for more information.
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