Cancer survivor Nikita Coulon and her mum have been getting on their bikes for a cause really close to their hearts.
Nikita, from South Shore, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma at the age of 23 – a rare type of tumour which develops within bone.
She underwent six cycles of intensive chemotherapy as an inpatient at The Christie Hospital in Manchester, and an eight-hour operation at a hospital in Birmingham, to remove the tumour from her right shinbone.
Her mum Regina had already raised £4,700 for the hospital and Nikita recently organised a fund-raising performance of Hairspray, at The Grand Theatre with Blackpool And Fylde Light Opera Company, in aid of CLIC Sargent – the children and young person’s cancer charity which supported her through treatment.
And the pair – inspired by a special person Nikita met at The Christie – recently took on the Manchester to Blackpool cycle ride.
They were joined by a friend’s husband, Dan Byrne-Fraser and his friend Ian Best – riding in memory of one of his friends – for the 60-mile ride, from Old Trafford football ground to the Blackpool mirror ball. So far they have raised more than £1,800.
Nikita, 26, said: “The work of this amazing hospital and staff got me through the most difficult time and out the other side; I can never show enough gratitude.
“After two years of not walking, I am now able to challenge myself. If it hadn’t been for The Christie, I wouldn’t even have been able to walk, let alone ride a bike. This was a very special ride as I did it alongside my mum, who was with me every single day at The Christie.
“We know first-hand how important donating to such a cause is – the money is essential for new equipment and the latest research and medicines.
“I met so many amazing people at The Christie, including a very special boy called Abe – we had the same type of cancer and we started chemo on the same day and finished on the same day eight months later.
“We spent a lot of time together in the music room, jamming and had a lot of laughs there, even after we finished treatment. Unfortunately, Abe’s cancer came back last summer and he was not as lucky as myself; Abe died at the beginning of January this year.
“It’s still hard to understand how I am here and he is not. He was so brave and I wish he was still here.
“So I was cycling the bike ride for Abe. Me and mum stayed together the whole way and had such a good time.
“It was hard work, but the thought of what the money was going towards kept me going. It was amazing to see all our friends and family at the finish line.
“It was self-achievement for me.”
Regina said: “I can honestly say the eight months I spent with Nikita at The Christie changed my perspective on life. I have never met so many amazing, extraordinary people – from the patients and their families to all the volunteers, staff, therapists, social workers, nurses, surgeons.
“The care and support Nikita received was outstanding, not to mention the support they gave me – and I feel blessed Nikita was under the care of The Christie. I cannot express my gratitude enough.
“I saw how brave, strong and truly incredible all the teenagers were and was totally inspired.”
To support Nikita’s efforts, visit www.justgiving.com/NikitaCoulon