A father undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer said he has “shown people what can be done” after he completed a 200-mile bike ride to Paris to watch the Rugby World Cup final.
Robert Seaward, 37, said it was “immense” to watch South Africa’s 12-11 victory over New Zealand at the Stade de France on Saturday after setting off from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, at 9am on Thursday.
Mr Seaward, who has been told by doctors he has “five to 10 years left to live”, told the PA news agency: “What a great game that was. It’s been immense. I’ve met so many people on the train about the event and it’s going really well.”
He had the “spontaneous” idea for the cycle as he reflected on his journey with oligodendroglioma, a type of brain tumour, after watching the Springboks defeat England in a dramatic 16-15 semi-final last week.
Mr Seaward’s wife, Shelley, had bought him tickets to the match as an early birthday gift but she did not expect her husband to travel to the game by bike.
“That game finished and I said to my wife: Shelley, I’m riding to Paris next week,” Mr Seaward said.
“She didn’t believe me, the family didn’t believe me – no one thought you can just turn up and ride a bike to Paris, especially when you’re not a cyclist.
“But I’ve shown people what can be done – anything you put your mind to you can do.
“On Thursday night I rode 100 miles from London to Newhaven which is torturous… and when I’d finished, I stopped to take my chemo.
“I can’t lie and tell you that it was painless – dude, if you’re ever going to ride a bicycle from London to Paris invest very heavily in a bike seat… I didn’t spend enough on mine and I paid for it.”
Mr Seaward’s journey saw him ride to Newhaven, in East Sussex, before catching a ferry to Dieppe in Normandy, France.
On Friday morning, he was back on his bike and rode to Beauvais before cycling onwards to reach Paris at 3pm on Saturday.
Mr Seaward said he had received messages from people telling him he has inspired them to get active, after his ride received widespread news coverage.
“I’ve raised a great amount of money for charity, but more importantly the message has spread and lots of people reached out to me directly saying that I’ve given them hope – and that’s worth more than the money,” he said.
“People that were just on the sofa, now they’re getting up and they’re getting active… if that’s someone’s father that I’m helping, that’s incredible to me.”
Studies have found exercise can negate the side effects of chemotherapy, and in some cases improve survival, though NHS guidelines suggest patients should be careful not to push themselves too hard.
Mr Seaward, who was born in South Africa and has lived in the UK for 22 years, said he believes staying active has positively impacted his treatment and he wants to share the message that cancer patients can be active.
“No one wants to tell a cancer patient ‘get running’, it’s not nice because you’re a cancer patient you’ve got to be gentle,” he said.
“But I’m a cancer patient, so maybe me being in this position allows me to tell people that and then that will help them through their treatments.”
– Mr Seaward’s fundraising page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/raising-money-for-brain-cancer-research