Chasing the Sun: Senior Advisor, Mike Gwynn, cycles for pancreatic cancer

Late Autumn in London

Pancreatic cancer is a silent killer. The general 5-year survival rate for people who have been diagnosed is as low as 9%, and if left untreated, the median survival for advanced pancreatic cancer is three and a half months. This is the lowest survival rate of all cancers besides mesothelioma.  

With a series of previous charity challenges under his belt, IScann Group’s Senior Advisor, Mike Gwynn, is planning to undertake a charity ride to raise awareness and money for pancreatic cancer. In the summer of 2021, Mike plans to join the “Chase the Sun” cycling event, which is a grueling 205 mile ride from the east coast to the west coast of the UK. 

This is a very personal and important journey that Andrew Vasko, Managing Director, IScann Group, a friend and colleague of Mike, is thrilled to support as a company and a friend.  

Andrew: Great to see you again, we have spoken numerous times at length about your personal involvement with pancreatic cancer and amazingly how difficult it is to diagnose, and pretty much impossible at the early stages. For this conversation, tell us  about your involvement?

Mike: This is a journey and cause that is very close to my heart. I will be supporting the official Pancreatic Cancer UK charity. It is a charity that I recently became more involved with due to the diagnosis of my 55 year old sister-in-law. She decided to visit the doctor when her daughter commented on her eyes being yellow, and within three days she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer which had spread to her liver. Hence, her yellow eyes. 

A: Were yellow eyes her only symptom? 

M: Yeah, they were. And at the time she wasn’t very concerned. My sister-in-law is somebody who is full of life, plays tennis, and rarely has anything wrong with her. What stuck with me though, was that the specialist who is treating her is 100% certain that she’s had the tumor on her pancreas for 18 years. That’s how slowly it grows! 

Unfortunately, with pancreatic cancer there are no obvious symptoms, you just don’t know you have it until it has spread to the liver, which is where symptoms usually begin to manifest themselves. You just have to look at the statistics, but once it’s diagnosed you have a very slim chance of actually making it, and people are typically dead within three months because it’s so advanced. 

A: Obviously more research is urgently needed so that there can be earlier diagnoses and more means and options to treat it. You have a cycling trip across the UK planned, “Chase the Sun”, to raise more awareness of pancreatic cancer. 

M: Yes, indeed. “Chase the Sun” will be held in the summer on the longest day of the year. Starting at 4:41am, the route starts at Minster, Isle of Sheppey, Kent on the east coast, and ends at 21:33 at Burnham-on-Sea in Somerset on the west coast. 

A: 205 miles! That’s one long trip! If I’m not mistaken, you’ve done previous cycle challenges for charity though?

M: Well, I’ve previously cycled 980 miles from Land’s End to John O’Groats in nine days, the furthest you can go in the UK and one of the most challenging endurance rides. It was to support facial palsy and a local hospital in Sussex that changed the life of my brother-in-law. He was diagnosed with facial palsy due to a constant twitch in his eyes. However, the corrective surgery to untangle blood vessels that had entwined themselves around his nerves left him with complete paralysis on one side of his face and deaf in one ear. 

The biggest challenge for this trip was that you had to be fit enough. Fortunately, as it was spread over nine consecutive days, you got fitter throughout the ride, however the challenge was putting in the miles and prep time beforehand. I also participated in an organised cycle route throughout Vietnam to support Macmillan Cancer Support and raised over £11,000

Sadly, due to the Coronavirus, it is yet to be officially confirmed since it is a semi-organized event with about 70-100 people taking part. There’s hope now though with the vaccine! I plan to cycle it with my brother-in-law. 

A: It seems like with each trip you are upping the ante and making it more difficult every time! How’s the training?

M: Yeah it’s a lot of prep time spent training on my stationary bike in the garage and cycling on the roads. 

A: Let me just say here that based on our regular discussions on the need to support Pancreatic Cancer and your passion for “Chase the Sun”. I’m so very pleased IScann Group will sponsor your ride next year and due to your personal evangelism to making everyone aware of this incredibly important cause, this will not be the last event we support for this cause. Also means there’s a lot longer challenges out there for you, Mike. 

M: Absolutely, I hope that through sponsoring my ride and supporting Pancreatic Cancer UK, it will encourage other companies to get on board and chip in. Of course, obviously the more companies that want to support Pancreatic Cancer UK, the better, particularly as it will lead to more visibility for the cause! I think that in itself is a brilliant reason for IScann to get involved, and I am very grateful for your support. I know you can’t be tested for every disease as you go, however the more money, time and research that is put towards pancreatic cancer could mean that in the near future it might be possible to track it earlier. At this point though, I think the most important thing we can do is spread the word, raise awareness and support the charities that are putting their resources towards further study. 

A: A little bit can go a long way, and I am glad that we can be a part of your journey. Thank you so much for sharing such a personal story with us. Now get back to training! 

If you would like to support Mike on his journey or learn more about pancreatic cancer and how you can help, you can find out more at www.pancreaticcancer.org.uk or by contacting XXX.

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