5 WEEKS TO GO
Sorry its me again, the fella that has cancer. But I’ll keep chatting and telling people about it because if it helps even just one person think I’m doing a good job of raising awareness of not just better testing, better treatment but also the vital importance of Stem Cell, Blood and Organ Donation.
A recap about my health journey, my Road to Perth and the World Transplant Games
Rewinding I was always active, Gaelic football, football, running and then cycling. March 28th until 2018 was always a special date, it was the date I met my now gorgeous wife, Lisa. However, this date will now always be stained with those dreaded words CANCER.
For the 18 months previous to March 2018, I had been running; 2 half marathons and a multiple 5km races. I usually cycle but our boy Aedan was born in 2016 and I found it hard to find the time for cycling so running was easier to do on lunch breaks etc.
• Jun 2017 – Broke 19.5 mins in a 5km.
• Sep 2017 – I completed the Derry Waterside half marathon.
• Jan 2018 – I got chatting to old Gaelic football friends and they talked me into coming back to Sean Dolan’s Gaelic Club (Life savers – literally). My 1st day back up at the club in many years, familiar faces (older somewhat) everywhere and the craic was mighty. We did multiple fitness tests and on the last sprint test I tweaked my right hip.
• Feb 2018 – As the days and weeks went on my hip progressively got worse.
• Mar 2018 – I started physio, now coughing and sneezing started becoming painful.
• Mar 2018 – Booked Doctor appointment in relation to a hernia, nothing found so my GP ordered a routine inflammatory blood test.
Now back to Tuesday 28th March, just a regular morning. Our boy hadn’t been well over the weekend and my wife Lisa was considering taking him to the doctors for a check-up.
Fast forward to the afternoon, beep beep my phone went, “ANSWER YOUR PHONE QUICK, SOMETHING ABOUT BLOODS!!!”. My heart sank, straight away I thought there was something wrong with our boy and Lisa had taken him to the doctor’s. I rang her right away, she said “hang up the phone now, it’s about your bloods and the doctor is trying to ring you”.
Once I hung up, my phone rang again with ‘Private Number’ “Mr Sheerin, can you talk?” I said yes what is it… “It’s Dr Devlin here, the hospital just rang about your blood test, and they need you over in the Northwest Cancer Centre tomorrow morning first thing. They suspect you have Myeloma….” …. “Mr Sheerin…?”. Yes okay and I hung up the phone. I went to my desk, brought up Google and typed in Myeloma. ” Incurable Bone marrow Cancer”. SHIT!
Since that dreadful day my body has been through the mill. However, I am still here, enjoying life, I am living with Multiple Myeloma and I am able bodied enough to head to the World Transplant Games in April 2023 where I will compete against the best Transplant Cyclist Athletes in 3 races.
• On the 17th April I will compete in a 10km individual Time Trial, just me against the clock where the best time is crowned champion – the race of truth.
• Later that day I will team up with 2 other GBNI Cyclists and compete in the 20km Team Time Trial, like the above race however this time it’s all about communication and finishing together as a team and setting the best time.
• On the 18th of April I will compete in a 30km Road race, this will be a mass start race where first across the line is the champ.
The Race will take place on the Wanneroo Racetrack. A 2.5km motorsport racetrack which should lend itself to a fast-paced race from the off.
A bit of background on me and my cycling; I am one of 3 Northern Ireland athletes heading to the games. I had great success at the British Transplant Games in Leeds back in July of this year. I won Gold in both the individual time trial and road race and thus secured a spot to represent at the Worlds.
I was told by my consultants back in 2018 to stop cycling due to the risk factors and complications of having blood cancer and specifically myeloma which impacts the integrity of the bones. I had been cycling for 7-8 years and did some local amateur racing across Ulster in various disciplines (road, TT, CX and MTB). But after the diagnosis I sold up everything, my road bike and time trial bike and bought a tacx smart bike so I could at least cycle indoors. When covid struck I help start a small virtual club. What started out as 4-5 lads riding their bikes in the shed or garage on their turbos has turned into Ireland’s biggest virtual cycling club/community (world’s 9th). “Team Racing Without Borders” (RWB- https://www.facebook.com/RWBcycling).
This gave me a huge focus on my recovery from cancer treatment, also hearing so many inspiring stories from the community and how cycling has saved them from a multitude of reasons stemming from physical and mental recovery. This gave me a huge purpose in getting my fitness back to a racing level, I am still raising the bar on my journey back to an amateur racing level but loving every minute I am able to pedal my bike!
This journey is also only possible thanks to the amazing Healthcare staff at the NHS Western Trust, Belfast Trust and the University College London Hospital who have been treating me since 2018. So far, I have been through:
- 5 weeks of Radiotherapy (40gy)
- Cancer Progression 🙁
- 6 months of Chemotherapy (VTD – Velcade/Thalidomide/Dexamethasone)
- Cancer Progression / Refractory to Chemotherapy drugs 🙁
- 3 Months Chemotherapy (RD-PACE – Revlimid/Dexamethasone – cisPlatin/Adriamycin/Cyclophosphamide/Etoposide)
- 1 Autologous (My own cells) Bone Marrow / Stem Cell Transplant (Melphalan)
- 4 months Chemotherapy (RD – Revlimid/Dexamethasone)
- 1 Allogeneic (My brother Damian’s cells) Bone Marrow / Stem Cell Transplant (low dose Melphalan)
- 7 months remission
- Cancer back another Relapse 🙁
- 8 months Chemotherapy (Revlimid)
- 4 months remission
- Cancer back another Relapse 🙁
- 1 week of Radiotherapy (20gy)
- 4 Donor Lymphocyte infusions (DLIs – Brothers T-Cells)
- At the time of writing, I am in Remission again 🙂
I must give a special mention to Dr Adam Waterworth who made me aware of the transplant games after my allogeneic stem cell transplant in 2020, he saw how cycling was helping me both mentally and physically and put me in contact with Transplant Northern Ireland. It had taken 2 years to get to Leeds and the British Transplant games in July 2022 through my health recovery and Covid, but I was so lucky to be able to take part / race and win the Games.
5 weeks to go, nerves are kicking in but I am super motivated to give it my best shot!!!
I will update you all each week on how my training is going and how I am prepping for the big event.
Oh and next week will not be anywhere near as wordy 🙂
About the Games
One of the largest teams in the world will be representing Great Britain and NI at the World Transplant Games 15 – 21 st April 2023. The team has 150 transplant athletes, including ten juniors, six donor and live donors and 50+ supporters. 40% of the team are new members and all the transplant athletes have been selected following their success at this year’s Westfield Health British Transplant Games which took place in Leeds and the European Transplant Games, hosted in Oxford.
Athletes have all survived a heart, lung, kidney, pancreas, liver, small bowel, or bone marrow transplant, and come from all parts of the UK. The World Transplant Games, which works in partnership with the charity Transplant Sport, usually take place every two years and are supported by the International Olympic Committee. Due to the pandemic, the last time the Games took place was 2019 in Newcastle. The sporting event represents the largest organ donor awareness event in the world, featuring a week of 17 sporting events. Team Great Britain and Northern Ireland will join over 1,000 other transplant athletes and live donors from 60 countries across the globe.
More info here: https://worldtransplantgames.org/
Join us on Saturday, March 25th for the Richie’s Road to Perth Fundraising Ride, a 50-mile sportive event to raise money for Transplant Sport NI and help send Richie to the Transplant Games in Perth on April 15th, 2023.
The event will start at 8.30 from the Foyle Arena and take participants on a picturesque route through the rolling hills of Derry and Donegal.
We will have a support vehicle taking us through the city to near the Derry/Donegal Border where we will be let loose. There will also be an optional celebratory gathering at the finish point in Ebrington, where riders can grab and enjoy their favourite hot or cold drink and/or bun or 2 whilst all supporting a great cause.
By taking part in the Richies Road to Perth Fundraising Ride, you will not only challenge yourself physically but also help make a real difference in the lives of transplant recipients like Richie. Your support will help fund vital programs and services that improve the quality of life for those who have undergone transplantation, and help them achieve their goals.
Don’t miss out on this opportunity to be a part of a meaningful event that makes a difference in the community. Register now and join us on March 24th for an unforgettable ride for a great cause. Also check out Richie Just Giving Page at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/richiesheerinwtg
Enter here: https://eventmaster.ie/event/dZM3cnGSwV
View the Route: https://ridewithgps.com/routes/42181434