The last time Madeleine Mansfield (36) cycled 50 miles, she cried for the last 10 miles and had to be pushed to the end by her beloved husband Steve.
But when the Didsbury cyclist takes on this year’s Christie Manchester to Blackpool ride on 10th July she won’t have Steve by her side. He sadly passed away from stomach cancer at the age of 49 in March 2016. The ride is taking place exactly a year to the day since the couple found out that Steve had terminal cancer.
“In May last year Steve was training for an Iron Man event in Austria,” says Madeleine. “He was cycling 110 miles, doing half marathons and was very fit, but he had been losing weight. I was concerned, I got him to go to the doctor and following an endoscopy, we found out on 10th July that he had terminal cancer.”
“We used to train for triathlons together and both of us hated the cycling part. As the Manchester to Blackpool ride is on the anniversary of Steve’s terminal diagnosis it felt like something that I had to take on. The last long ride I did with Steve was 50 miles and I cried for the last 10 miles. Steve had to literally push me along. So doing The Christie Manchester to Blackpool ride this year will be a huge challenge, both physically and certainly emotionally.”
Since losing Steve my whole world has fallen apart. I’ve lost my best friend. He was my sun and the sunshine. He meant the world to me. We were married in February this year and had the most perfect day. But his health deteriorated quickly and he died just 32 days later on 22nd March.
Steve also left behind two children from his first marriage – Robert and Lois and three grandchildren.
“From the very first time we walked into The Christie there was a positivity from the doctors and nursing staff. We knew that Steve was terminally ill, but the staff didn’t talk about how soon he would die, they talked about how long they could help him to live. They focused on him as a whole, not just his cancer, and wanted to make sure that his diet, his mental wellbeing and the things that were most important to him were taken care of.
“They gave us options and hope and were willing to try different things – the focus was all on the quality of life. I was lucky that The Christie, Macmillan and the community nurses all made it possible for Steve to die in the way that he wanted – at home with me.”
Madeleine, who has already exceeded her initial fundraising target of £500, hopes that by fundraising for The Christie, other families will benefit in the future. “Cancer sucks, but I know that The Christie can do something about it,” she says. “They did everything they could for Steve and we were both very grateful.”
“The Christie isn’t just a hospital, everything they do is important. They don’t just give you treatments like chemotherapy they provide the whole package, whatever your needs. Things like providing a family room, the wig service, developing new treatments like proton beam therapy, a dedicated unit for young people and helping patients to die with dignity.”
“When you hold the hand of your husband as he is dying you have to find glimmers of positivity. If everyone who is touched by cancer just does a little bit of fundraising it will make a difference, because no one can do it all on their own.”
Madeleine admits that the last 10 miles will be the toughest. “Knowing that Steve would be so proud of me for taking this on and knowing that so many people have sponsored me and believed in me, that will get me to the end.”
Steve had a philosophy of doing things with gusto and so that’s how I will approach the last 10 miles. Steve did a 110 mile bike ride with stomach cancer, so I can do this for him. It’s my love for Steve that will drive me on – and not just in the bike ride but in life. When it hurts like hell you just have to keep on going.
Madeleine will take on the ride with her sister, Claire, and several other friends.
The iconic Manchester to Blackpool Bike Ride on Sunday 10th July is The Christie's largest cycling event attended by over 6,000 cyclists each year.
It is an invigorating ride that is very popular amongst cyclists of all abilities. The route covers 60 miles from Manchester along the scenic country lanes of Lancashire and then finishes on the South Promenade in Blackpool. After completing the ride, cyclists can enjoy a BBQ, live music and a well-earned massage.
For the first time this year, the event will start from the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays.
Every year, thousands of dedicated fundraisers saddle up to raise vital money to support cancer patients at The Christie. This year, fundraisers will be helping to build The Christie’s new Integrated Procedures Unit, which will eliminate transfers between departments and minimise the need for overnight stays.
Sporting Events Officer at The Christie charity, Lindsey Farthing, said: “The Christie Manchester to Blackpool bike ride is one of our biggest and best fundraising events of the year. Thousands of cyclists take on this iconic 60 mile ride and there is a fantastic carnival atmosphere on the day.
We have some truly inspirational fundraisers like Madeleine taking part and we want to thank every single rider who has signed up for Team Christie this year. You can still sign up, either now, or even on the day itself. The Christie Manchester to Blackpool bike ride is helping to build our new Integrated Procedures Unit which will speed up treatment for patients and provide them with better facilities.
You can support Madeleine by visiting www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Madeleine-Jarvis2