People with serious afflications occasionally bicycle across the US to show that their conditions can be overcome. Few, if any, have biked cross-country with terminal cancer.
But that's what the 42-year-old UK resident Jane Tomlinson is doing. Diagnosed with incurable metastatic breast cancer in 2000, Tomlinson has put the pain and exhaustin behind her and reached the halfway point of her trans-America bike tour.
Tomlinson left San Francisco on June 29 to bicycle 4,214 miles across the US to New York City by Aug. 31. Here's a map of Tomlinson's route.
Accompanied by her husband and son in a support van, Tomlinson's two daughters remain at home. She's riding with two other cyclists, one from the UK and the other from Canada.
Leaving San Francisco in mid-summer, her first weeks have been marked by temperatures in the 90s many days, sometimes up to 100. In spite of the conditions, she's keeping to a schedule the requires her to cover 60 to 80 miles a day.
In addition to expected exhaustion and dehydration, she also suffers pain from her cancer. Her husband told the BBC after one particularly difficult day in the Nevada desert:
“Jane was quite emotional at the finish and sat crying wondering what she was doing in the States, and just what was the point of cycling across it.
“It's something that none of us can help with and I can understand why she feels dispirited. When you have a short time to live it's a huge sacrifice to dedicate it to try and improve things for others.
“This ride is taking every reserve of Jane's strength and it seems so incredibly futile. I think we all have bad days, but for Jane she has the pain of an aching and painful body.”
Now, after conquering the Rockies, Tomlinson and her entourage have passed through eastern Colorado and into windy Kansas, says her husband's blog.
During the past six years, during which she has received four rounds of chemotherapy, Tomlinson has competed in marathons and triathlons. Her efforts to prove that people with terminal prognoses — she was given 6 months to live — can live full lives has resulted in recognition throughout the UK. She's received several sportswoman awards and an Order of the British Empire.
In addition to inspiring cancer victims, Tomlinson's bike tour is designed to raise for fund cancer research and treatment. Among the charities she supports:
Sports Aiding Medical Research for Kids
MacMillan Cancer Support
Martin House Children's Hospice
The Paediatric Acute Services at Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust
Blue Bell Wood Children's Hospice
Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, a US charity.