A brave father who lost a six-year battle with cancer earlier this year has inspired a pair of cyclists to fundraise in his memory.
On Sunday (19 July), Grant McKnight and Jody Rodger will take part in L’Etape du Tour, which covers the route of a single mountain stage of the Tour de France, to raise money for Imperial College Healthcare Charity and Cancer Research UK.
Their friend Fraser Dunlop was given less than a year to live when he was diagnosed with stage four cancer at the age of 38, but he lived five years longer than expected, partly thanks to pioneering treatment at Hammersmith Hospital.
The father-of-two passed away in April this year at the age of 44.
Grant, 45, who grew up in Dalbeattie in Scotland with Fraser, said: “His second daughter was only six-weeks-old when he was given nine-months to live.
"He met really good consultants at Cancer Centre London, then a few years later he met more through Imperial College, all of which gave him hope.
“They kept him going long enough for us to get an extra five-and-a-half-years with him and now both of his daughters will have memories of their dad, which was never going to happen when he first found out.
“We have been focusing on the L’Etape du Tour since Fraser left us in April. It keeps his memory alive and it keeps him close to us.”
The L’Etape du Tour will see the duo climb about 5,000m during the 142km route from Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne to the ski resort of La Toussuire.
Grant, who lives in Winchester, and Jody, who lives in Beaconsfield, have raised about £5,000 so far, which will be split between Imperial College Healthcare Charity and Cancer Research UK.
Imperial College Healthcare Charity raises funds for research, training and equipment at the five hospitals of Imperial College Healthcare Trust.
The money the pair raise will go to The Fraser Dunlop Research Fund at the charity, which was set up by one of Fraser’s consultants, Ed Leen, professor of radiology in the faculty of medicine at Imperial College London and consultant interventional radiologist treating cancer patients at Hammersmith, Charing Cross and St Mary’s Hospital.
The fund will help to develop safer, more non-invasive technologies, methods for improved targeted drug delivery and to combat cancer drug resistance.
Fraser, who lived in Prestwick in Scotland when he died, was diagnosed with stage four advanced cancer that had spread from the gastroesophageal junction to the liver in 2009.
But he always remained positive about his diagnosis, and two years ago, together with his brother Ross and Grant, Fraser completed the L’Etape du Tour, raising £4,000 for Cancer Research UK.
Grant, who works in air traffic control, said: “The event is really gruelling, especially for someone in Fraser’s condition. He finished the L’Etape on Sunday, came home on Monday then had more treatment on Tuesday.
“I have never met anyone as positive as Fraser. He had said he wanted to do something for charity and we just thought yes let’s go. It was a great weekend – Fraser was such a character and he kept our spirits up. I felt really emotional when we completed it within the time.”
To sponsor Grant and Jody, visit http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/forfraser.