Belton’s grandfather braves terminal cancer with Papa’s 100 Bike Rides Challenge at Rutland Water


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A grandfather defies terminal illness and chemotherapy by challenging himself to cycle around Rutland Water 100 times.


Frank McEwan, 74, is undergoing treatment to extend his life after being told last February that his lung cancer was terminal.

Still, the former Army PTI instructor from Belton has no intention of going quietly and is on a mission to complete 100 bike rides around the reservoir to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Dad’s 100 Bike Rides – named in honor of his six-year-old grandson Teddy – began in mid-April and is approaching halfway through.

'Papa' Frank with his beloved grandson Teddy.  Photo: Andrea McEwan
‘Papa’ Frank with his beloved grandson Teddy. Photo: Andrea McEwan

He was inspired by the national ‘100 challenge’ from the daughter of the late Captain Sir Tom Moore.

“It suggested things like baking 100 cupcakes, but my wife wouldn’t let me in the kitchen to do that,” said Frank.

“I’ve been cycling around Rutland Water almost every day for twenty years and know every bump and dip, so I thought: why not use that properly?

“It’s a way I can give back to the NHS and Cancer Research for all the amazing, wonderful care I’ve had.

Frank McEwan completed his 50th stage on Sunday - with a little support from family and friends.  Photo: Andrea Chapman
Frank McEwan completed his 50th stage on Sunday – with a little support from family and friends. Photo: Andrea Chapman

“It is going in the right direction and as far as I am concerned it is for the best reason in the world.”

Frank tries three rides a day, chemotherapy permitting, and supporters are welcome to ride with him.

He expects to be ready by the end of May and has already raised around £ 2,000.

Frank, with grandson Teddy, has made many commitments to support Papa's 100 Bike Ride challenge while riding
Frank, with grandson Teddy, has made many commitments to support Papa’s 100 Bike Ride challenge while riding

“When I’ve hit 50 runs, I’ve made a request for my friends to join, and I’ll probably do something when I get to the 100th run,” he added.

“I had a heart attack when I was 42 and after I recovered my daughter said ‘go buy a bike and get active again’.

“I now use my eBike when I need to and my racing bike when chemotherapy allows it.

“The eBike may sound like cheating to a 25-year-old, but for a 74-year-old with one lung I can tell you it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity!

“You still have to work hard, it’s not just a push of a button.”

Despite a tumultuous two-and-a-half-year battle against cancer that has brought ample setbacks, Frank remains positive and determined to wring every drop from his life.

After cancer was first discovered in October 2018, in his chest, right lung, and left kidney, he had most of the lung removed.

He was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a condition that caused his heart to beat abnormally fast, making breathing even more difficult.

After his kidney was removed in February 2019, he was back in the hospital two months later to have his ruptured diaphragm reattached, an operation that didn’t work and made it even more difficult for him to breathe.

Life was almost back to normal when it was diagnosed in February last year that the cancer had spread to his remaining lung. It was terminal.

Frank, who helped create a recreation area in his hometown, resisted chemotherapy for as long as possible to maintain his quality of life.

He finally gave in, started the first of two chemotherapy cycles last September, and is treated in the hospital every 14 days.

“The treatment isn’t unpleasant, but the side effects are dire,” he said.

“Still it works – I’m still on the right side of the turf.

‘The tumors in my lungs are stopped. It’s incurable, but it gives me more time.

“It could be 10 years, it could be 15 years, but I don’t lie in my bed at night thinking I don’t have long to go.”

* Visit to support Frank https://uk.gofundme.com/s?q=Papa%27s%20100%20bike%20rides



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