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LE-JOG Le Blog: A battle, a challenge, a girl and a bike.

Anonymous
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24 Jun 2014

Kristen Filice takes on 1200 miles to help find a cure for her Mum, who is battling Mantle Cell Lymphoma

The story
It's been a few years since I've kept a blog.

'Antics of a fledgling expat.' It began when I packed up for Istanbul at 21 and ended abruptly when I moved to London for the 'big corporate job' at 24. We'll call it a collection of early-20-something adventures. And in the end, I guess I wasn't such a fledgling expat.

Today I'm starting a blog with a very different purpose. This August, I'll be cycling from the very southwest of England to the far northeast of Scotland- 1200 miles (just under 2000km). While I have no known history of mental illness, I do love a good challenge.

Actually, this is a rather peculiar way for me to positively channel a superabundance of energy, generated from a rather unfortunate reality.  While I don't expect many readers prior to the epic journey, I do want the whole story to be here. Starting ... now.

THE BATTLE
We'll get the tough stuff out of the way first. Last year my mom was diagnosed with stage 4 mantle cell lymphoma - a rare and aggressive cancer that doesn't quite have a cure yet.

We're no strangers to the 'c-word'. My dad's beat 7 cancers over the past 35 years, and my mom's already conquered 1. We're tough, to say the least.

Still, this one came as a big surprise. My mom was recovering well from a hip replacement when they found lymphoma in her removed hip. It had to be a mistake. My mom can't have cancer - she's fine. But as it happens, she does. And so our battle began.

No cure. 2 words no one wants to hear. But I'm not too concerned about that. They'll crack this cancer too, and there's no doubt in my mind that my mom will keep fighting until the day that cure comes walking right into our lives.

NOTE: We may appear to be suburbanites, but we have southern Italian blood and a whole lot of fight. Capa tosti (Calabrese for 'hard heads') the lot of us!

My mom's doing well, all things considered. She's in high spirits and rocks a trendy new athleisure wardrobe - matching leggings, track jackets and do-rags. She's just had her 6th chemo session and will transition into a clinical trial. We're fighting the good fight.

THE CHALLENGE
You feel a lot of emotions watching a loved one battle a serious illness: love, sadness, anger, frustration, guilt... but most of all, helplessness. That's the worst. I want to make my mom better. I want to end the chemo sessions. I want her to get strong again and go out. I want her hair to grow back. I want to forget the elusive them that are supposed to fix this and do it myself. I mean, come on! It's 2014. Look at the amazing things the human race has accomplished. But we can't crack cancer? Really? For shame.

Unfortunately I can't do those things. But I need to do something. And I find myself surrounded by energy. It's an energy that wants very much to be negative. But I've decided to channel it into something positive and do something crazy to raise funds towards a cure.

I considered a lot of options. In the end, I've decided to cycle the length of the UK- Land's End to John O'Groats. 1200 miles of hilly English countryside. On a bicycle. No motor.

They call it.... LE-JoG.

THE GIRL
That's me. And I'd like to take this opportunity to point out 1 very important thing.

I am not a competitive cyclist.

I'm not even a serious cyclist. I've been a runner since I was 11. 7 years of Cross Country and a few marathons under my belt. I'm a thrice-a-week yogini. I'm a daily commuter cyclist who enjoys some leisurely weekend rides. Followed by the pub. I also enjoy going out in the evenings and sleeping until 2pm and I enjoy beach holidays... but those things are on hold this year!

Step 1 was to make sure I can do this. After much research, I have a training plan. I'm up to 60-75mi rides on the weekends, have doubled my circuits and I go every Wednesday for a session of pure masochism - sprints on a WattBike. Conclusion? Hell yeah, I can.

Step 2: plan a route. Step 3: involve others. Step 4: start fundraising. Step 5: ride! The training to get myself up to 1200 miles is huge. And I am very, very excited.

THE BIKE
Meet my trusty chariot. My friend Lucas sold her to me for a mere fraction of what she's worth, in support of my cause. She is beautiful. And together we'll scale this island!

AND NOW...
My remaining updates should be  shorter. This is, of course, keeping in mind that brevity has never been my forte. But I'll do my best to provide updates on my mom, my training and my fundraising as often as makes sense. Then I'll plan to update the blog every day on the ride itself.

In the meantime, thank you for reading and sharing this journey with us!