Being diagnosed with a disease that can make you weak, biking across the United States doesn't seem like an option.
For Chris Edgerton, 56, from Manchester, England, there was no question on what he wanted to do.
"I was diagnosed with a rare lymphoma in July 2017 and decided to buy a bike, train for nine months and then cycle across America," Edgerton said. "I guess this is not the usual reaction to an incurable cancer but it seemed like a good idea at the time."
Edgerton began his tour in Los Angeles, California, on May 13 and made a stop in Dodge City on Friday as part of his cross-country ride.
The tour through Crossroads Cycling Association, will end in Boston, Massachusetts.
"I am hoping to spread awareness for Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia which is the rare (3 in 1 million) Lymphoma I have and how a positive attitude helps bring positive outcomes," Edgerton said.
According to the American Cancer Society, Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia is a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
"The cancer cells make large amounts of an abnormal protein (called a macroglobulin)," the American Cancer Society website says. "WM is a cancer that starts in B cells.
"The WM cells grow mainly in the bone marrow, where they can crowd out the normal cells that make the different types of blood cells. "This can lead to low levels of red blood cells (called anemia), which can make people feel tired and weak. It can also cause low numbers of white blood cells, which makes it hard for the body to fight infection. The numbers of platelets in the blood can also drop, leading to increased bleeding and bruising.
"Lymphoma cells can also grow in organs like the liver and spleen, causing these organs to swell and leading to abdominal pain."
During the ride, Edgerton has been able to raise $20,000 for the Mayo Clinic and Waldenstrom’s research in just the first 20 days of heading out on the road.
"I am from Manchester but live in Jupiter, Florida," Edgerton said. "I was really lucky living there because there was a Mayo Clinic near where I lived."
Edgerton noticed that he began feeling tired more so than usual. After several blood tests, he was handed the diagnosis.
"My doctor has been great and the Mayo Clinic has been great," he said. "When began reading about others that were diagnosed, one was a firemen who ended up running marathons and that's when I decided I wanted to do the ride.
"I first started with a nine mile ride but I ended up taking a 20-minute break after four."
From there Edgerton began setting his goals.
First with nine miles, then 12 then 15 and so on, right up to taking part in the cross-country tour.
"On a typical day I burn about 2,600 calories," he said. "But what I really wanted to do was see places you normally don't get to see and all the land that is in between it.
"So far it has been good. I get to meet and talk with people you normally don't get a chance to."
With the fundraising aspects of the tour, Edgerton said he didn't want to do it for just him.
"Because WM is such a rare disease there is not much funding for it," he said. "A lot of it comes from private donors and family members of those diagnosed so I really wanted to do this for others."
Edgerton indicated that a project through the Mayo Clinic is on the verge of making those diagnosed with WM more treatable.
"They have good research to where it will almost be like living with diabetes," Edgerton said. "Yes you will never be cured but they will be able to make things more manageable to live with but there needs to be more awareness about it."
One thing Edgerton gets asked a lot during the half-point of the tour is what he will do when he reaches the end.
"Probably throw my bike in the ocean," he said laughing. "I know that when I'm done it will be a real positive thing for others.
"And I am the fittest I have ever been so being able to help someone else out is great." Edgerton's story and the ride can be seen at www.lifewithedge.com.
On the website there is a Facebook link and details of the tour as well as the tour map.
The website also has a link to make a donation with funds going towards Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia research through the Mayo Clinic.
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