Inspirational Leeds dad-of-one fighting brain cancer to ride charity cycling event

An inspirational Leeds dad who has bravely fought brain cancer for more than seven years is due to take to the wheel for his fifth annual 'On Yer Bike' charity event for Brain Tumour Research.

Rory Burke, 48, blacked out on the way to work in Leeds in 2012 before losing consciousness when he returned home.

In a devastating turn of events, courageous Rory was told by doctors - following a CT scan - that he had a golf-ball sized tumour on his brain.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Rory has since defied all of the odds of the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40 to fight multiple rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.

Rory Burke

Now, Rory wants to thank those at Brain Tumour Research and all of the medical staff who have treated him by taking part in the cycling event to raise awareness of his condition by urging people to visit the Brain Tumour Research website to learn the statistics surrounding the condition and potentially donate via the site.

Rory said: "It is all about raising awareness.

"This is not about me, it is to generate awareness and to give back to all of those who have helped me."

The 'On Yer Bike' event is set to take place on Saturday 8th February 2020 and involves cycling an optional distance target for the national spinathon to raise awareness and vital funds.

Rory Burke

Rory went through surgery in 2012 while not under anesthetic.

He said: "It was a very weird experience.

"The surgery went well and they were able to remove about 80% of the tumour, which was about the size of a golf ball.

"Waking up from the operation, alone and a bit drowsy from the drugs wasn’t a nice experience but I was pleased it was over.

Rory Burke

"It immediately dawned on me that I couldn’t move my left arm and I remember being really scared.

"I found physio tough and frustrating and I really tried to push myself, as I believed the more effort I put in the better my arm would get.

"Eight years later my arm is still weak but you have to keep fighting the battle and challenge yourself to overcome hurdles."

A few years later in June 2016 a routine CT scan showed the tiny bit of tumour was beginning to grow again in Rory's brain and he opted to have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Rory added: "I was unable to return to work and focused my energy on myself and my mental and physical wellbeing.

"Like so many people nowadays, I sought help from outside my family, not only in helping me deal with the diagnosis and treatment, but also with the other things being thrown at me that I didn’t feel in control of.

"I would say to anyone that has been diagnosed to make sure that they have someone to talk to and if you need additional external support, don’t be afraid to ask."

Rory, who works in the recruitment industry, said he was determined not to let his diagnosis define him.

He said: "I’m a very black and white type of person and the news that I had a tumour did shock me a little, but my main emotion was acceptance.

"I really just tried to stay positive.

"Not everyone who is diagnosed with a brain tumour has options, so when the doctors went through the different treatments available to me I felt lucky that there was something that could be done."

Rory said his main ambition is to raise awareness about the statistics involved in Brain Tumour Research.

Brain tumours are indiscriminate, they can affect anyone, at any age, at any time.

They kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease according to Brain Tumour Research.

Rory added: "Before I got given the diagnosis, I did not know the statistics.

"I just think it is one of those things people don't think about.

"I want to show everyone what can be achieved despite my diagnosis while raising awareness for the charity."

In January 2020, Rory was given the news that his tumour had experienced a change following an MRI.

However, defiant Rory said he is looking forward to more charity involvement in the future.

He said: "Although I live with a tumour every day I try not to let it worry me and rule my life. I joined a local walking club and even took part in a cycling challenge for the charity Brain Tumour Research when I was undergoing chemotherapy in 2017.

"It was important for me to move on from the tumour and help fund research into the disease.

I also sponsored players from London Irish RFC, a club my family has had long associations with.

"Though I’ve had many personal challenges to deal with during my brain tumour journey I feel positive about the future and am enjoying every moment as it comes."

Hugh Adams, charity spokesperson for Brain Tumour research said: “The financial penalties, the loss of independence and the consequential feelings of isolation compound the poor prognosis endured by brain tumour patients like Rory and this has got to stop.

“For too long, brain tumours have been a neglected cancer. We are challenging the Government and larger cancer charities to invest more in brain tumour research.

"Brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of children and adults under the age of 40 yet just 1% of the national spend on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.

“We are extremely grateful to Rory for his continued support and wish him all the best as he embarks on another On Yer Bike event next month.

"We hope that his inspirational story will motivate others to fundraise and campaign to help find a cure.”

If you'd like any more information or support for holding your own On Yer Bike event - including tips on planning your event, choosing the right venue, recruiting your team, getting publicity for your event and maximising your fundraising - please email Carol Robertson, the Head of Fundraising Events, on [email protected]