Robert Seaward, 37, who was born in South Africa and has lived in the UK for 22 years, said the “spontaneous” idea for the cycle came about as he reflected on his journey with oligodendroglioma, a type of brain tumour, while watching the Rugby World Cup match between South Africa and England.
Mr Seaward used to run his own electrical contracting business until he had a seizure in his home on January 30 of this year, which led to him being taken to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford in an ambulance.
“Doctors found a brain tumour and I went overnight from being a fit and healthy 37-year-old dad to being terminally ill and told I’ve got five to ten years left to live,” Mr Seaward, who lives in Marlow, Buckinghamshire, told the PA news agency.
“My little girl was only five at the time and I thought, I couldn’t leave her that young, so anything I could do to extend those times, I would do.”
Mr Seaward – who is father to Seth, 10, Finley, eight, and Esme, six – had surgery in March, which aimed to remove 70% of the tumour, but 96% ended up being removed.
“That blew my mind,” he said.
“It was a long surgery (on March 13) – we started at 11am in the morning and it finished at 8pm at night.”
He had radiotherapy for roughly a month afterwards, followed by chemotherapy, adding that he has three more rounds of chemotherapy left.
He said watching South Africa compete against England in the Rugby World Cup match last week made him think about “how lucky” he was to have had a “successful” surgery and how he could help others with cancer.
“Some don’t come out of surgery at all and others may have complications,” he said.
“I thought I needed to make something positive from that to help other people as well, and a bike ride came to my mind.”
To make the ride possible, he looked for tour operators, and happened across Challenge Central, who were happy to facilitate his adventure.
He started the cycle at around 9am on Thursday morning in Marlow where he rode around 100 miles to Newhaven, in East Sussex, before catching a ferry to Dieppe, in Normandy, France.
On Friday morning, he was back on his bike, where he rode to Beauvais, in northern France, and is set to end his challenge in Paris on Saturday at around 3.30pm having cycled around 200 miles.
He said one of the most challenging parts was contending with a huge hill in Beacon, near Brighton.
“It was pitch black and it was freezing and I could sense the impatience of the cars behind me,” he said.
However, on the flipside, he said the messages he has received from those with cancer has made his challenge feel all the more worthwhile.
“I’ve got messages from two people who’ve been diagnosed recently with cancer themselves and say that I’ve given them hope,” he said.
“That makes me emotional – if I can help someone else, that’s what I did it for really.”
He has raised close to £4,000 for charity Brainstorm, to facilitate its work in brain cancer research.
Moreover, he said that “more importantly”, he wanted to help others undergoing chemotherapy.
“I wanted to show other people that chemotherapy is not something you have to be scared of,” he said.
“I’m on chemotherapy – literally on Thursday night, I took my chemotherapy pills after riding 100 miles in a day.
“I’m just trying to give people hope.
“Look at me, I’m on chemotherapy and I’m literally (cycling) to Paris with no bike riding experience.”
Mr Seaward’s fundraising page can be found here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/raising-money-for-brain-cancer-research