A Kenilworth cyclist who underwent a stem-cell transplant to beat leukaemia is taking on a London to Paris cycle challenge to raise money for the charity which helped him make it through.
Mark Nicholas, 48, was diagnosed was with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) in May 2016. He was told he needed a stem cell transplant.
A donor was found in 2017, and Mark had the transplant in October of that year despite only finishing the 100-mile 'Velo Birmingham' cycle ride in the previous month.
The ride raised thousands of pounds for Cure Leukaemia, a charity which funds research into treating the disease and helps patients access treatment.
Mark admitted he found the transplant and subsequent treatment very difficult.
He said: "I was in solitary confinement for a week and a half without seeing anybody. It was brutal, and I lost lots of weight."
But when Mark heard his leukaemia was in remission after his ordeal, his focus was to raise more money for Cure Leukaemia, who had helped him find a donor in the first place.
He wanted to take on the 500km London to Paris cycle challenge from Thursday September 20 to Monday September 24 with his old cycling friends to raise £14,000 for the charity.
Mark, a keen rugby fan who still plays for in the veteran Kenilworth Pirates team, is part of a group of friends and cycling club colleagues comprising Ian Hancock, Tom Cullingford, Steve Hancock, Pete Gillespie, Ruth Voisey, Stuart Insall, Jim McCabe, Keith Hancock, Darren McMahon and Richard Skan.
The team, ‘Marco’s Tour de Cure’, is raising funds through a bespoke cycling jersey for the ride featuring the branding of regional companies keen to support their cause.
Mark added: “I am feeling good, so we decided to get the team back together, and take on London to Paris to try and raise some more funds for the vital work of Cure Leukaemia.
“We are immensely grateful to all the companies that have supported this jersey and helped us raise significant funds for Cure Leukaemia.
"The team is nearly halfway to our target of £14,000 so I hope we can hit and surpass that figure in the coming weeks.”
Mark also wanted to thank Professor Charlie Craddock and his team for getting him through the transplant, and his German donor, who Mark hopes to meet in the future.
Mark said: "I just want to keep repaying Professor Craddock and his brilliant team for saving my life.
“Whatever support Cure Leukaemia need I will be there, whether a bike ride or corporate event.
“And the focus of a cycle event like London to Paris also pushes me to exercise and get fit to aid my recovery from leukaemia.”
Anyone wishing to donate to Mark's cause should visit his Just Giving page