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Belton grandfather defies terminal cancer with Papa's 100 Bike Rides challenge at Rutland Water




A grandfather is defying terminal illness and chemotherapy by setting himself a challenge to ride his bike 100 times around Rutland Water.

Frank McEwan (74) is undergoing treatment to prolong his life after being told in February last year his lung cancer was terminal.

Yet the former Army PTI instructor from Belton has no intention of going quietly and is on a mission to complete 100 bike rides around the reservoir to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Papa’s 100 Bike Rides - named in honour of his six-year-old grandson Teddy - began in mid-April, and is already nearing the halfway mark.

'Papa' Frank with his beloved grandson Teddy. Photo: Andrea McEwan
'Papa' Frank with his beloved grandson Teddy. Photo: Andrea McEwan

He was inspired by the national '100 challenge' set by the daughter of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.

"It suggested things like bake 100 cup cakes, but my wife wouldn't let me in the kitchen to do that," Frank said.

“I’ve been cycling around Rutland Water virtually every day for 20-odd years and know every bump and dip, so I thought why not put that to good use?

“It’s one way I can give back to the NHS and Cancer Research for all the stunning, amazing care I’ve had.

Frank McEwan completed his 50th ride on Sunday - with a little support from family and friends. Photo: Andrea Chapman
Frank McEwan completed his 50th ride on Sunday - with a little support from family and friends. Photo: Andrea Chapman

“Things are going in the right direction and as far as I’m concerned it’s for the best reason in the world."

Frank is attempting three rides a day, chemotherapy permitting, and supporters are welcome to ride with him.

He expects to finish around the end of May, and has already raised around £2,000.

Frank, with grandson Teddy, has had many pledges of support for Papa's 100 Bike Ride challenge while out riding
Frank, with grandson Teddy, has had many pledges of support for Papa's 100 Bike Ride challenge while out riding

“When I get to 50 runs I’ve put out a request for my friends to join me, and I’ll probably do something when I get to the 100th run," he added.

“I had a heart attack when I was 42 and after I recovered my daughter said ‘go and buy yourself a bike and get active again’.

“I use my eBike now when it's necessary and use my road bike when the chemotherapy will allow me to.

“The eBike may sound like cheating for someone who's 25, but for a 74-year-old with one lung I can tell you it's not a luxury, it's a necessity!

"You still have to work hard, it's not a push-button thing."

Despite a tumultuous two-and-a-half-year cancer fight which has delivered more than its fair share of setbacks, Frank remains positive and determined to wring every last drop from life.

After cancer was first discovered in October 2018, in his thorax, right lung and left kidney, he had most of the lung removed.

He was then diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition which made his heart beat abnormally fast, making breathing even tougher.

After having his kidney removed in February 2019 he was back in hospital two months later to have his ruptured diaphragm reattached, surgery which didn’t work and left it still harder for him to breathe.

Life had almost returned to normal when in February last year, the cancer was found to have spread to his remaining lung. It was terminal.

Frank, who helped create a recreation ground in his home village, resisted chemotherapy for as long as possible to maintain his quality of life.

He finally relented, beginning the first of two cycles of chemotherapy last September and has treatment in hospital every 14 days.

"The treatment isn't unpleasant, but the side-effects are horrendous," he said.

"Yet it's working - I'm still on the right side of the turf.

"The tumours on my lung are being held back. It's incurable, but it's giving me more time.

"It could be 10 years, it could be 15 years, but I don't lie in my bed at night thinking I haven't got long to go."

* To support Frank, visit https://uk.gofundme.com/s?q=Papa%27s%20100%20bike%20rides



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