Cycling septuagenarian takes to the saddle for cancer charity

Janice Houghton-Wallace will be taking to the saddle for the first time in 56 years.
Janice Houghton-Wallace will be taking to the saddle for the first time in 56 years.

Having not regularly ridden a bicycle since passing her driving test 56 years ago, Janice Houghton-Wallace has set herself the challenge of not only getting back on a bicycle again but training to take part in a cycle time trial challenge as part of the Tour of Cambridgeshire Cycling Festival at Peterborough on 2 June.

Son Robbie bought Janice a new road bike last summer and she is aiming high by trying to qualify to represent GB in her age group at the Golazo World Cycling Championships in Italy later in the year.

“Training is hard but I have set myself this challenge in memory of my brother Stephen, who died 8 years ago from the asbestos cancer mesothelioma,” says Janice.

“I cared for my brother after he was diagnosed with this disease and given between 8 – 12 months life expectancy. We think he was exposed to asbestos when 17 years old whilst helping build a new piggery on the farm in the 1960s. Forty one years later this horrific cancer took hold and I witnessed someone I love suffer horrendous, uncontrollable pain.”

Janice looked after Stephen at her home near Newton Stewart, having been trained to help him by Papworth Hospital but this along with local medical care eventually was not good enough.

“I never want to see another human being suffer so,” said Janice. He spent his remaining two weeks of life at the Alexander Unit of Dumfries Hospital and the staff were wonderful, allowing special ‘friends’ to visit – and my little Jack Russell dog Jasper instinctively jumped on the bed and lay down by Stephen’s side at the end, with his head on Stephen’s hand.

“There had still been brief moments of Stephen’s humour though such as “This ward is like a first class hotel room, it’s as good as being on holiday…. pity I’m not well”.

Liz Darlison, Head of Services for Mesothelioma UK and Clinical Nurse Specialist said: “Supporters of Mesothelioma UK never cease to amaze us. Janice’s cycle race really is up there with some of the best. It is a testament to their relationship that eight years after losing her brother Stephen, Janice is looking to support a related charity. We really are very grateful and of course so inspired by her actions. Good luck Janice and we look forward to celebrating you completing the race.”

Please help Janice raise money to train more mesothelioma specialist nurses. “We desperately need to educate people that asbestos cancer is NOT a thing of the past and more support and targeted treatment is needed. I cannot bear to think of others suffering in the way my brother did and it is through voluntary donations that this specialist support is funded,” says Janice.

Janice’s fund raising page is at: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/JaniceHoughtonWallace