FOUR years ago Neil Burton was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus and told he had a five per cent chance of survival.
But since then he has been on the long and arduous road to recovery and has organised a charity bike ride to raise money for Harbour Cancer Support Centre, where he received counselling.
Mr Burton, 47, from Whiteley, will be part of a team of five cyclists who bid to cover 186 miles from Whiteley to Bristol and back on May 9-10 next year as part of the Neil Bikes Back Challenge.
It is hoped the fundraising effort will raise thousands of pounds for Harbour Cancer Support Centre, in Gosport, which helped Mr Burton and provides specialist counselling for patients with rare cancers. He said: ‘Without Harbour I wouldn’t be here. She is as important to me as any other person in my life.
‘There are medical concerns about the bike ride because if something does go wrong, the natural thing to do is call an ambulance.
‘An ambulance turns up and says, “right, what’s wrong with him?” Well, good luck trying to answer that question because where would you start!
‘But I have to do something to thank the centre for all the support they’ve given me and so many others.’
Mr Burton has taken more than 33,000 tablets since he was diagnosed with cancer, has had several operations and even had half of his stomach removed without morphine as he is allergic to it.
‘Suddenly your whole world comes crashing down around you,’ he said. ‘I was looking in to the abyss.’
Mr Burton has also had to explain his illness to his six-year-old daughter, Daisy Pippi Burton.
He added: ‘She is at the stage in her life where she knows daddy had cancer.
‘I was a bit concerned initially of her being involved in all this but she’s really enjoying it. I do want to protect her from it in case it gets too heavy but at the moment she’s fine.’
Rachel Smith, fundraiser at Harbour, said: ‘The emotional support is something which is really needed.
‘Fundraising like this is incredibly important as we are self-funded. Without donations from the public we would not be able to do what we are doing.’
‘We are all wishing Neil good luck and a huge thank you for what he is doing.’
The ride was officially launched at the Solent Hotel, in Whiteley with a party and the week after the ride there will be a black tie auction at the hotel to raise funds.
To sponsor Mr Burton, visit neilbikesback.co.uk