Pedalling to recovery: how one man turned to cycling to beat prostate cancer
After being diagnosed with prostate cancer last year, Trevor Mulryne decided to get fit to help speed up his recovery. Now, after cycling the Pennine Way, he tells us how he turned his hobby into a fundraiser to help all men beat the most common cancer in men, uniting his family in the process.
“When the specialist looks you in the eye before saying anything, you know it’s not good news,” says Trevor Mulryne, a retired headmaster. Even though his older brother had been living with prostate cancer for 20 years, he says his own diagnosis with the disease last year still came as “a complete shock”.
Treatment with radiotherapy and hormone therapy followed, before Trevor decided to make some lifestyle changes. He gave up smoking, cut down on drinking, and started going to the gym regularly.
He found his health and wellbeing increased with his gym visits and soon decided to take up another activity: cycling.
Those first winter mornings were tough, but I knew I needed to see it though
“I hadn’t ridden a bike for many years”, admits Trevor. “Those first winter mornings were tough, but I knew I needed to see it though.”
And that he did! With spring on the horizon, he was doing longer 20 to 40-mile rides and – spurred on by a visit to the University of York to see the research work of Professor Norman Maitland – his thoughts turned to how he could use his new-found love of cycling to raise money to help beat prostate cancer.
So in July, just a year after his cancer diagnosis, Trevor took on the challenge of cycling the Pennine Way across the neck of England. The coast-to-coast route took him over the Pennine hills from Workington to Tynemouth, with some fierce hill climbs in the Lake District. But as Trevor says, “what's a challenge if it's not a challenge?”
My children didn’t want me to be cycling alone and were so keen to support me. It really meant a lot
His family’s support has been key. When they heard about Trevor’s decision to take on this challenge, his three children – Paul, Ann and Stephen – immediately wanted to join their father, even though Paul is the only other regular cyclist.
“It was really lovely and kind of them," says Trevor. “They didn’t want me to be cycling alone and were so keen to support me. It really meant a lot.”
After their fantastic – if sometimes gruelling – ride, the tired but delighted cyclists finished their journey with a celebratory paddle in the sea at Tynemouth, while Trevor’s six grandchildren looked on.
So far, Trevor has raised nearly £6,000 for Prostate Cancer UK and donations are still coming in. He advises anyone thinking of doing a similar cycling fundraiser to do it as part of a group – “the more the merrier” – and to push yourself to the best of your abilities each and every time.