Charity cyclist struck down by cancer

'BOLT FROM THE BLUE' -- Geoff was diagnosed with cancer after suffering pain during the charity ride
'BOLT FROM THE BLUE' -- Geoff was diagnosed with cancer after suffering pain during the charity ride

A BRAVE grandad from Hucknall defied the pain barrier to complete a bike-ride marathon to support cancer sufferers — before being hit with the devastating news that he had the killer illness himself.

Geoff Crowson (49), of Birchdale Avenue, has collected thousands of pounds for Cancer Research UK in the last two years.

His charity efforts are inspired by the deaths of his grandmother and uncle from the disease.

Now he is embroiled in his own personal battle to beat cancer.

For after cycling 200 miles in the coast-to-coast ride during the summer with eight family members and friends, he was diagnosed with potentially deadly testicular cancer.

“It came like a bolt from the blue,” said Geoff. “When we got to the start line for the ride, I said to one of the lads I shouldn’t be doing it because I was in lot of discomfort.

“I didn’t know why. My wife had been encouraging me to go to the doctor’s beforehand but I kept putting it off.

“On one occasion, I decided to collect our support vehicle instead.

“On the ride, I said to one of the others that you never know when cancer might get you. I never realised how true my words would be.”

The ride took Geoff and his crew from St Bees in Cumbria to Whitby in north Yorkshire.

They completed their challenge in less than four days and so far the fundraising total is more than £1,300. It is expected to surpass the £2,000 mark easily.

After the stamina-sapping ride, Geoff visited his doctor in Hucknall. He was immediately referred to Nottingham City Hospital for a suspected tumour to be investigated.

Within three weeks, he was on the operating table having one of his testicles removed.

Since then, he has undergone more tests and is waiting to start a course of chemotherapy to attack any cancer that might still be in his body.

But his recovery ise complicated by problems Geoff is also having with his back, which could indicate that the cancer has spread.

“When I was on the ride, the mind was willing but the body really wasn’t able,” added Geoff. “I was in a lot of pain but just taking paracetamol. Now I am on morphine-based drugs.

“I managed to finish. I organised it and didn’t want to give up. But now I would struggle to carry two bags of shopping. If I got on a pushbike, I wouldn’t be able to even pedal 200 yards.

“I have had a lot of support from my mates and through Facebook. I suppose it makes you realise even more how important it is to support charities like Cancer Research UK.”

Geoff is well-known for his charity stunts. Previous challenges in aid of Cancer Research UK led by him include a 23-mile walk he and his then one-year-old grandson, Alfie, completed between the east coast seaside towns of Scarborough and Whitby in 2009.

Last year, Geoff and 18 family members and friends took on an 85-mile ride from Southwell in Nottinghamshire to the holiday resort of Skegness. They raised £3,443.

Despite his cancer hell, Geoff is still planning to continue raising money for Cancer Research UK.

For he is pinpointing a 1,000-mile car-drive around part of Britain’s coast in a £300 ‘banger’.

He wants family and friends to join him on the journey, which might include various stunts along the way, such as a unicycle ride to the highest pub in the UK and a climb up Mount Snowdon in Wales.