Just over a year ago, Andrew Slorance was confined to a hospital ward, his immune system destroyed, his bone marrow not functioning and being fed through a tube in his chest.
The 46-year-old Scottish Government civil servant had just undergone a “brutal” life-prolonging stem cell transplant at the Western General Hospital – the final part of an intensive six-month treatment programme for a rare and non-curable form of Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. So it was with a great sense of pride and achievement he recently led a group of 18 family, friends and colleagues on a 50-mile charity ride in aid of the Edinburgh Maggie’s Cancer Centre extension project, raising more than £2000 along the way.
Andrew, from Liberton, said: “It’s amazing what a difference a year makes. It’s been quite a journey, in all senses of the word.
“If you’d said to me at the start of last summer that I’d even be back on my bike in 2017, let alone pedalling from Edinburgh to North Berwick and back, I’d have said that the morphine they were giving me was too strong.
“I was at a low ebb. I’d just finished six rounds of intensive chemotherapy for Mantle Cell Lymphoma, undergone a fairly brutal stem cell transplant, and was starting what I knew was going to be a long and slow recovery process.
“Through my treatment and recovery the fabulous team at the Edinburgh Maggie’s Centre played a big part in helping me, my wife and children cope with what we were facing and what the future would hold.
“So when it came to marking my ‘stem cell anniversary’ I decided to try getting back on the bike and to raise some funds for the exciting building extension project that Maggie’s are undertaking in Edinburgh.”
Andrew was delighted his oldest sons Kyle, 19, and 16-year-old Glen were keen to join him on the ride, and he managed to persuade a number of other friends to take part.
Andrew also had his ‘support team’ of wife Louise, and younger children Millie, 10, Olivia, 7, and Finlay, 6, to offer great encouragement – and logistical back-up – in Edinburgh and North Berwick.
“It was a day filled with so much pride. I was incredibly proud of managing the 50 miles, though I won’t pretend it wasn’t tough. I was so proud to have my family beside me. And I was very proud of those who took part and, of course, those who sponsored us so generously.”
Andrew, who raised more than £6000 for Maggie’s in spring 2016 running his first ever 5km race between his fifth and final rounds of chemotherapy, is keeping his JustGiving page active for a few more days – you can find out more about his story and make a donation at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/NorthBerwick-StemCellAnniversaryRide