A consultant radiologist from the Royal Liverpool Hospital is preparing to cycle more than 500 miles from Geneva to Nice to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, after spotting his own leukaemia while testing a new ultrasound machine at work in 2008.
Setting out on Friday 19 August, Professor Derek Gould will pedal at altitudes of up to 2,800 metres as he takes on the punishing Raid Alpine ride to support the charity’s life-saving research into better treatments and cures for leukaemia and all other blood cancers.
Derek, who lives in Childwall, was testing an ultrasound probe in preparation for a new research project when he noticed an abnormality in his liver and consulted a colleague. Blood tests revealed that he had chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL), a slowly progressing blood cancer, which fortunately has not required chemotherapy treatment. Instead, like many patients with CLL, the progress of Derek’s illness is being closely monitored with regular check-ups.
"It was a big wake up call and knocked me back mentally," said Derek, 61. "But the leukaemia is not an issue right now - and hopefully won’t be for many years to come! I’ve since pushed what’s happened to me to the back of my mind and try to make the most of everyday.
I don’t feel vulnerable when I’m out on the bike. I’ve always been a cyclist, and always wanted to try the Raid Alpine, so I’m doing this for me. "
Setting out from the town of Thonon Les Bains on the south side of Lake Geneva, Derek will face a series of increasingly steep climbs and descents throughout the nine-day challenge, including the tallest mountain road in Europe, as he winds his way to the finish in Nice.
In 2010 Derek was also diagnosed with prostate cancer. Having beaten that disease, Derek is now determined to help Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research get closer to a cure for CLL and all other blood cancers.
CLL is the most common form of leukaemia in the western world, with around 3,300 people in the UK diagnosed with the disease every year. Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is investing more than £840,000 into groundbreaking research at the University of Liverpool to develop new treatments for CLL.
Derek said: "We need to raise our game to find better treatments and cures. Blood cancers cover such a wide range of different diseases there is a real need for ongoing research, and that can only happen with funding. Please support me if you can."
Kate White, Director of Fundraising at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said: "Even for an experienced cyclist like Derek, the Raid Alpine will be incredibly tough. We wish him all the very best of luck with his challenge and hope as many people as possible get behind him. Every penny raised from the ride will mean more lives saved for leukaemia, lymphoma, myeloma, and all other blood cancers."
Support Derek's ride to beat blood cancer
You can support Derek by visiting his just giving page.