Cycling from Bristol Beijing for children with cancer

  • Luke making a school presentation about CanLive and Bristol2Beijing; Luke after a half Iron Man in Egypt November 2018 after chemo; Luke in France in August 2018

Meet Luke Grenfell-Shaw – the 25-year-old cycling from Bristol to Beijing on a tandem bike…named Chris.

In June of 2018, Luke received the difficult news that he had 13 cancerous nodules in his lungs. He was 24 and he had stage IV cancer. Despite a tough year of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, Luke wasn’t going to let his cancer diagnosis hold him back. He wanted to show that it is still possible to thrive with cancer. In Luke’s words, he wanted to bring “hopes and dreams for an uncertain and indeterminate future to now.”

To show that cancer is not a barrier, Luke has chosen to cycle on a tandem bicycle (named Chris!) from Bristol to Beijing, taking a gruelling 23,000km journey through 24 countries, and to raise money for charities that are helping others affected by cancer. Luke began his expedition in Bristol on the 1st January 2020 and expects his journey will take at least a year to reach Beijing. And he’s not travelling alone. Luke is being joined at different stages of the journey by other young people with cancer, who Luke calls ‘CanLivers’. Luke has started a movement that he calls CanLive which, he hopes, will reframe the way we think about cancer.  Luke rejects the idea of a battle against cancer and instead advocates for embracing both the uncertainties of living with cancer and also the reality that it is still possible to live with cancer, but it requires the urgency of living life to the full.

Just six weeks into the 12+ month expedition, Luke and his CanLive community have smashed their initial fundraising target of £23,000, raising more than £30,000 for four charities supporting young CanLivers in the UK. Having now completed the first of five legs of his global trek, Luke has decided to add a fifth charity partner to focus the impact of Bristol2Beijing within the next region of his expedition.

As of the 20th February 2020, we are excited to announce that World Child Cancer has been chosen as a regional charity partner for the Europe Tour (Leg 2 of 5) of the Bristol2Beijing campaign.

“I’m incredibly excited that we’re now also supporting World Child Cancer,” Luke said. “I feel fortunate to have had such outstanding support in the United Kingdom and I have hoped this expedition could support organisations that do amazing work in other parts of the world with far more limited resources. I hope this partnership will increase the global reach and impact of Bristol2Beijing and the CanLive movement.”

The first £5,000 World Child Cancer receives from contributions during the European leg will contribute to World Child Cancer Netherland’s project supporting children with cancer in Kosovo, the poorest country that Luke is expected to visit during the second leg of his trip. In Kosovo, for the few families that can afford cancer care, a lack of sufficient medical equipment and paediatric oncologists make accessing effective treatment extremely challenging. The Kosovo project therefore focuses on training more healthcare professionals in paediatric oncology and palliative care, so more children are able to receive the treatment and care they so desperately need. The project also provides patients with psycho-social support and essential nutritional support to help improve the quality of life for those children being treated for cancer.

Of course, Luke’s new £123,000 fundraising target (split five ways amongst his five partner charities) aims to raise far more than £5,000 for World Child Cancer. In a few months’ time, Luke, his tandem named ‘Chris,’ and his support team of friends, family, and CanLivers expect to travel through and around the Himalayas on their way to Beijing. Luke is excited for any funds beyond £5,000 raised for World Child Cancer during his Europe Tour to be allocated to our work in Nepal and Bangladesh, also along his meandering cycle route. Both are new projects to be launched in coming months and will work to provide some of the most vulnerable families with financial and emotional support, train more healthcare professionals and raise awareness of childhood cancer. 

With over 300,000 children developing cancer worldwide each year, a campaign like Bristol2Beijing holds even more importance. Jon Rosser, Chief Executive at World Child Cancer says:

“We are thrilled to be working with Luke and the Bristol2Beijing campaign to help make a better world for children living with cancer…in Kosovo, our sister charity, World Child Cancer Netherlands help to make high quality cancer care more accessible for children in one of the poorest parts of Europe. What Luke is doing is so brave and we look forward to cheering him on along the way!”

Please support the fantastic efforts of Luke and those cycling with him and help give all children in Kosovo equal access to quality cancer care. Click here to donate.

Supporters can follow the expedition’s progress with Chris’s new GPS tracker and also by following Bristol2Beijing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Weibo. For much more about Luke, ‘Chris,’ CanLive, and the Bristol2Beijing expedition, please visit https://bristol2beijing.org/ or watch the video below.