The 2015 MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer started with an emotional opening ceremony, particularly when inspirational teenager, Deni Atkinson took the podium to talk about how she’s been fighting a rare brain tumour for the past two-and-half years.
After enduring seven hours of surgery, Deni and her family were told that most of tumour was inoperable.
“That’s when reality set in,” she told the riders in the audience. “That this could happen to me, that cancer doesn’t discriminate.”
Doctors told Deni that conventional chemotherapy could have lifelong complications and risks due to the location of her tumour, so after a long recovery period, the family went to America for specialised proton radiotherapy treatment therapy.
“Even though I’ve been left with many side effects including hormone therapy and daily injections, I feel so lucky,” Deni said.
“My tumour has gone from the size of a golf ball to the size of my thumbnail. I’ve grown 12 cm in a year due to medication. My eyesight is great. This is thanks to research and without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” she said.
“Signing up for this year’s ride was never a question, especially after visiting the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and seeing where the money goes. Last year’s Ride to Conquer Cancer was one of the most memorable moments of my life.
“Cancer has robbed many of us of a massive part of our childhood. The simple fact is I have brain cancer which kills more people under the age of 40 than any other cancer. It is only through research that these statistics can improve.
“I wish it wasn’t normal for me to spend endless days in a hospital, to witness friends fight this disease. Most have lost hair, some have lost limbs and unforgivably, some have lost their lives. But I do know what it is like and that’s why I’m determined to make a difference.”
Deni will sit her Year 12 exams in two weeks and has already signed up to participate in the 2016 MACA Ride to Conquer Cancer.