Lightening never strikes the same place twice … or?

This blog has been long in the coming. I’ve waited, pondered, recorded vloggs, deleted, written and thrown away like a budding writer with a mental block. Cycling has had to take a back-seat for this one.
Thanks to the team at Vättern for sticking with me, and all my friends who have supported me.

How do I write this, without including this or that? And honestly, who wants to listen when everyone is so busy jostling for their own 15 mins (with the dawn of Facebook I think that’s been cut down to 5 seconds) of ‘fame’. There are times when I quite dislike the internet because it dislocates us from reality, from what’s out there infront of us. It’s a great forum for gathering information but as a means of communication (deriving from the Greek ”Come together”) all too often it splits people, instead of bringing together. I’ve been guilty of it myself, I’m not claiming I’m better or worse than anyone else.  just my reflection.

And so to the Blog; Do I write about what I’ve seen, fact-based adventures, or do I get more philosophical and write about what I feel, what is running through my head. Ultimately, we all want to feel good. Feel good about life, in others company, our families but mainly just feel good within. Do I want to open up about this? Do I need to?  One thing is for sure: We ALL have our baggage and demons and whatever you’re going through, and whatever I’m going through, I am under no misgivings whatsoever that there isn’t someone, a lot of someone’s, that have it a lot worse than you and I.

In the last 15 years I’ve beaten a nasty cancer diagnosis, been threatened, blackmailed, lied to about cancer, endured sexuall harassment at work and attacked by a motorist whilst out riding.
With a daughter that has been terrorized for the last 4 years, her mother likewise it’s hard to take to heart the quote by one  brilliant Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
“If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each man’s life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
To forgive, is ultimately the only way out … it takes time, it’s a process but, it is the only way forward.

Luckily for me, I have my family, then my bike and the road. Cycling is my therapist. And through it all I’ve always tried to keep a happy go lucky demeanour.

But a fantastic year had received a rather sinister** end.
I’d spent the latter half of 2017 building up my body strength; No rush, just going through the workouts, gently increasing weights and reps during the months. I adjusted my diet (again) completely. Those who know me and would refer to me in the past as Mr McDonalds may be surprised to learn that I haven’t eaten one of their burgers in two years. = Progress!?
My weight dropped 5 kilos, I felt physically strong and  looked forward to getting fit for 2018; My last tour of Italy showed signs of that but …
Always a but

Something wasn’t right inside. After numerous visits to the hospital, doctors eventually discovered 3 polyps in my large intestines.
One was removed during the examination, the others would require surgery, and if cancerous, I would need a much bigger operation. Hearing this was like having a big iron gate slammed in my face. ”Again!?” I guess it was shock, I felt numb, found it hard to believe … and walked out of the hospital dazed and with a surreal out-of-body experience feeling. ”Is this happening to me again?”

On November 16th 2017, I was operated on.
The tumour was cut out in the same manner you would scoop out an avocado without breaking the skin and I was immobilised for 3 weeks with a pain-management program unworthy of the name.
This was ok, I had prepared for this operation by getting fitter than ever and staying focused. I kept telling myself  ”this would have been much worse if you hadn’t prepared. you’ve trained hard for this.”
Soon I was back at it, gingerly sitting on the bike, easy Zwift sessions with my good friend Martin for company helping me along. The gym became a regular occurrence again and I started to get back into shape. And all the while, not yet knowing what was to be found haunted the back of my mind.

December 21st
In a tiny office in a hospital in Linköping I was informed that cancer was found in the large intestine, a T1SM3!
T1 is the grading of the tumour. 1- 4, 4 being the worse kind. The problem isn’t so much the T1, it’s the SM3. This relates to the depth of the tumour in the tissue. The tumour ran deep into the walls of the intestines, risking infection of lymph-nodes.

The surgeon said that to the naked eye it appears we have got it all out, but on a microscopic level we can’t be sure. So, the recommendation is operate. The operation will have dire consequences with severe nerve damage and other none to pleasant side-effects that I really am not willing to divulge right now.  To be honest I’m still digesting all of this.
I could watch and wait and see what happens, but that ‘may’ increase the risk of metastases.
And for the final Joker in the pack: “We may find that when we remove everything, we had actually gotten everything out first time” – and this operation is irreversible.

In situations like this family is paramount, and once again, your friend-base shifts. Being told ”I’m here for you” when clearly you’re not is an all too over-used phrase.  As is ”You’ll beat this you’ll see, you did it before”. And I know it’s hard to know what to say in such circumstances, that they mean well, but one thing I know about cancer, there is no luck involved, it takes indiscriminately and, beating it once, doesn’t give you a free ticket to beating it again. And it’s more than ok not to say anything at all and just listen when someone wants to off-load.

So where do I go from here:
I’ve chosen watch and wait; Regular check-ups every 3 months, if it comes back? Then I will have to go under the knife but that day that sorrow.
It could be considered difficult to plan ahead but I have to anyway.  If I’m lucky I will be back on Zwift (as soon as this influensa passes) Italy is booked for cycling and in May I will start working with cycling tourism in Scandinavia.  Halv Vättern and Vätternrundan are all booked and our team is raring to go and the final tour of the year will be Italy. I am looking at implementing a new course at my gym and when I’m not completely wiped out with the flu’ (as I am now) spending time with my 5 daughters and my first Grandchild arriving in May.  There are some big things ahead to be genuinely happy about. Some blogs are already lined up for release and I’ll be posting those when I see fit.

And finally, if you see me on the road, feel free to say hi, cycle with me a few kms and perhaps we’ll grab a coffee together.

** Footnote. The word ’sinister’ derives from the latin ’sinistra’ which originally meant ’left’ (and still does in Italien)  Over the centuries it took on a meaning of bad luck and evil.  Left-handed children in UK schools were forced to write with their right hand well into the 1970’s. By contrast the English word ’right’ also means correct, justice etc.

I came, I saw, I biked

Gary Fleming: Currently a 55year old father of five girls living in Sweden who loves nothing more than to get out on the road and pedal.

You are cordially invited to join me at this blogg where I will re-tell the stories, experiences and history of my own battles with my trusty carbon steed plus reporting on current topics, training rides and camps, cycling in other parts of the world and finally what you may or may not have thought about; what you may need to make your Vätternrundan an event to remember.

Now a Veteran with 26 completed Vätternrundans in my water bottles I will be in Motala on June 9th for Halvvättern and again on June 15th. I have only one motto when it comes to cycling. ”My destination is not my goal, the road is my goal” Hopefully we will meet on the road