Incredibly, despite having stage 4 bowel cancer, Keith Farquharson has just completed all 2,082 miles of the Tour de France 2018 at his home in Heaton, Newcastle.
Lady Elsie with Keith, Caspian and Amber Farquharson
Keith has been shielding at home because of the COVID-19 virus and has used that time very productively, converting his road bike to a static bike with a turbo trainer and using a special simulator to replicate the many hills and mountains of the Tour de France route.
In the process, he has raised more than £3,000 for our Foundation.
Diagnosed in May 2017, after six months of chemotherapy, Keith was told that half of the people with his prognosis would die within twelve months.
After exhausting the standard treatment available, he was offered a trial of a new drug at the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre, which began in February 2018. Keith credits the drug with keeping him alive for the last two and half years.
A big ‘well done’ from the Sir Bobby Robson Centre
The 46-year-old software developer, has combined his daily cycling with working from home, which he shares with wife, Amber, and seven-year-old son, Caspian.
He says he has found the exercise mentally and physically beneficial and has been ‘meeting’ up online to virtually ride with friends he would normally cycle with.
Doing around 50kms a day, Keith chose the 2018 Tour de France, because it was the year he was off work with cancer and had time to watch the whole race.
Completing the ride, which has the equivalent ascent of climbing Mount Everest five times, has been very fulfilling for Keith but not without its challenges.
Speaking immediately after he finished, Keith said: “I’m shattered and pleased it’s over but it’s been so, so good. Strangely, the hardest part was about halfway through when I came off the hills and it was flat. It was just less interesting to do, so it was quite hard to keep motivated.
“Raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has really helped. I always used to cycle when I had chemo. It helps you mentally, you can get out and think about something other than what’s going on and it makes a big difference.
“I’d like to thank everyone who has supported and sponsored me while I’ve been cycling. All my family and friends have given me great encouragement and the kind words and donations I’ve received from people don’t even know have helped enormously.”
Using a Bkool Pro 2 turbo trainer to convert his road bike and a Bkool simulator, Keith began his ‘Tour’ in the kitchen on 28th March, has cycled in the living room and, on a fine day, sets his bike up in the back yard.
It has been an extremely difficult few years for the Farquharson family. In January 2017, Keith’s father was diagnosed with stage four kidney and bladder cancer. Two months later, Amber, Keith’s wife, was told she had cervical cancer and just two months after that, Keith was diagnosed with bowel cancer. Sadly, his father died last year.
Lady Elsie was on hand to cheer Keith over the line and said: “What a marvellous achievement this is. I think Keith must be a very special man indeed to have completed this ride and in such difficult circumstances.
“He’s done the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation very proud and I’m grateful to everyone who has supported us and donated because of Keith’s efforts.”
Professor Ruth Plummer, is the director of the Sir Bobby Cancer Trials Research Centre, which has been able to provide essential treatment for patients throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
Professor Plummer said: “All of the us here at the Sir Bobby Centre are so proud of Keith for completing this amazing challenge.
“Like all our patients, Keith is part of our clinical trials team. He understands the importance of trialling new drugs both for him personally and for others.
“He’s done something very special in finishing this ride and we hope his little jaunt ‘around France’ gave him something positive to focus on during lockdown.”
The 2018 Tour de France race consisted of 21 stages, starting in Noirmoutier-en-l’Île, in western France, and finishing with the Champs-Élysées stage in Paris.
Keith has tweeted throughout his ride from his account, @DeadManRunning1, and you can sponsor his efforts here: