A woman who found a lump in her breast one month after signing up for a ride to raise money for cancer charities completed the event and is now training to ride from Vietnam to Cambodia.
Nadjie Butler is a 55 year old mum of two, who signed up to complete the Women V Cancer Ride the Night in February 2015, and was soon after diagnosed with an extremely aggressive form of breast cancer.
The ride was in May, and Nadjie continued to train for it, despite undergoing a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery in March and beginning chemotherapy in April.
She finished the ride with a friend in five hours, having raised over £2000 for the causes. Since then, she’s beaten the disease and signed up for another ‘Ride the Night’ event on Saturday 28 May, and for the 450km Women V Cancer Cycle Vietnam to Cambodia ride in 2017.
"I have always had a get up and go attitude and I believe staying positive, fit and healthy can help you fight cancer."
Nadjie, a regional sales manager for BT, explained: “When I was diagnosed I knew that I had to remain strong and positive for my family. I have a husband, a son aged 17 and a daughter 14, and I wanted them to see me carrying on with ‘normal’ life. I continued working and began training for the ride on a training stand indoors. Having my family to stay strong for and the ride to aim for really helped me through my treatments."
“So many people thought I was mad planning a 100k bike ride in the last week of a chemotherapy cycle but that’s just me. I have always had a get up and go attitude and I believe staying positive, fit and healthy can help you fight cancer."
Of course the training was tough, and Nadjie struggled on plenty of occasions – suffering frequent coughs and colds as a result of treatment, as well as hair and nail loss. She says: “Like everyone I had my dark depressing moments and when it came to training, reconstructive surgery on my chest made me wary about cycling outdoors. This said, I was so determined to stay positive and keep going with the treatments and training for the ride.
“One thing I tell other women going through treatments is not to think it is the end of your life. For so many of us there is life after cancer and to a certain extent you can still do what you want to do if you put your mind to it."
The event, organised by Action for Charity, begins with a pink fireworks display and attracts thousands of female riders all cycling in support of three cancer charities. It left a lasting impression on Nadjie – she says: “From the minute we arrived we were talking to women from all over about their own links to the cause. Some were survivors of cancer, others had lost loved ones to the disease. There was a real sense of unity and it was non-stop chatter, tears and laughter throughout.
“Crossing the finish line was certainly emotional. I felt such a sense of euphoria for completing the ride and even though I had been up for over 24 hours I was so awake and buzzing because of what we had all just done."
It wasn’t until August that Nadjie completed her treatments, and she quickly signed up for more events – her most ambitious being the Vietnam to Cambodia ride in 2017. The ride, like Ride the Night, will raise money for Women V Cancer, who support breast, cervical and ovarian cancer.