Why I am cycling the coast of Britain for Prostate Cancer UK | NTT DATA

Thu, 10 February 2022

Why I am cycling the coast of Britain for Prostate Cancer UK

Even by the standards of these unprecedented times, 2022 will be an unusual year for me. From May to July this year I have set myself a daunting (some would say foolhardy) goal: I will be replacing my work shoes for cycling cleats and riding around the entire coast of Britain. This journey of over 4,000 miles, my Great Tour of Britain, is all with the goal of raising £20,000 for Prostate Cancer UK. I really hope my adventure will serve to raise awareness for this incredible cause and perhaps inspire other people to go the extra mile for charity.

But what brought me to this point?

Gareth Lyon in cycling clothing on his bike in the summer

My “why”

First and foremost, my family has a deeply personal connection to prostate cancer. My father and uncle have both been affected by it, with my uncle undergoing a successful operation to remove the cancer.

Prostate Cancer affects 1 in 8 men, but with my family history I have a 1 in 3 likelihood of getting the disease. But in many ways, myself, and my family, have been lucky. Every year, there are nearly 12,000 prostate cancer deaths and it is the second most common cause of cancer death in males. Too many men are dying, as symptoms go missed and men put off routine screenings.

I am determined to use my bike ride to raise awareness around what needs to be done to start turning these statistics around. The stigma around getting tested for prostate cancer needs to be addressed to ensure that men regularly get checked. When I went public about my ride, I was overwhelmed by the number of people within my life that got in touch saying they’d lost family and friends to prostate cancer. Men need to understand that this is not an “old man's disease", and that regular testing needs to begin at around age 50 with the aim of catching it early.

Prostate Cancer UK

I could not be partnering with a better charity on this journey than Prostate Cancer UK. Every day, they fund incredible projects around the UK helping support vital research and awareness programmes. All the money raised will go towards several key initiatives supported by the charity:

  • There is always more work to be done to connect with individuals, like me, whose family history puts them at a 1 in 3 chance of developing the disease and encourage them to get tested.
  • I am also keen for the money to help the charity reach other groups at greater risk: black men for example have a 1 in 4 chance of developing prostate cancer within their lifetime.
  • Finally, I am passionate about the money helping fund the development of a national screening initiative, similar to that for breast cancer. As part of this, there needs to be a better routine test developed, as the current PSA test isn’t that reliable – it is wonderful to see the continued innovation in this area to make this new test a reality.

Why cycling?

When I tell people about my Great Tour of Britain, many ask why I have chosen to cycle. My inspiration comes from an array of different places. I have done major rides before, in 2017 I rode just under 1,000 miles in 10 days in aid of prostate cancer. I have been particularly inspired by other stories of exploits on a bike, including the Inspire to Ride film about the inaugural trans America ride and ‘One Man on his Bike’, a book about a Guardian journalist’s ride around the coast of Britain.

There was also something else on my mind. This year I turn fifty. This holds enormous significance as it is the age where every man should start regularly getting tested for prostate cancer. I wanted a new challenge to mark this key milestone that would test me, both physically, and mentally.

In my prior challenges, I chose to cycle alone. However, this time I wanted to make the event as inclusive as possible to raise more awareness and funds. Currently, there are 45 riders joining me on various stages of my journey. I am particularly delighted to be joined by many brave NTT DATA employees around the UK.  I want to inspire each of these riders to experience something completely out of their comfort zones, while encouraging them to be active and push themselves to new heights.

The support of NTT DATA

I have been really pleased with the complete support of NTT DATA on this journey. The company has agreed to fund all the expenses around the challenge, I will be receiving paid holiday for the duration of the challenge, and NTT DATA will match any funds raised by NTT DATA employees.

Too many companies talk about the importance of charitable causes. It is fantastic to be at a purpose-driven organisation like NTT DATA that lives its values every day, and that is genuinely willing to go the extra mile to help an employee to give back to such a wonderful charity. If you would like to donate, my fundraising page is here, and stay tuned for updates over the coming weeks!

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