Inspiring young Harborough man battling cancer is gearing up to tackle an epic 1,400-mile road challenge

He’s aiming to raise £3,000 for Leicestershire MS Therapy Centre and Together Against Cancer

Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:44 pm
Updated Friday, 25th June 2021, 4:46 pm
Ben during one of his fundraisers.
Ben during one of his fundraisers.

An inspiring young Market Harborough man battling cancer is gearing up to tackle an epic 1,400-mile road trip as he gets behind two vital organisations.

Ben Johnson, 34, is to climb on his beloved motorbike and head out on the classic ride with his great mate Wesley Cash, 40, from John O’Groats to Land’s End next month.

He’s aiming to raise £3,000 for Leicestershire MS Therapy Centre and Together Against Cancer – both based in Leicester.

And he’s already raked in over £800 as he steps up his highly-personal quest to salute two outstanding organisations which have helped pull him back from the brink.

Born and bred in Market Harborough and now living in Great Bowden, Ben told the Harborough Mail: “I cannot wait to get on my bike and ride the length of Scotland and England with Wesley.

“It’s going to be tough but it’s going to be beautiful and awesome at the same time.

“We are setting out to stick to B roads and that’s why we reckon we’ll clock up about 1,400 miles from north to south,” said Ben.

“And I’m only just getting back in the saddle again after being ill for so long.

“But it really will be the challenge of a lifetime and I can already feel the tingle of excitement and pure joy of being out on the open road pulsing through me!”

The indomitable master carpenter said he is full of hope after fighting an astonishing four-year battle to beat cancer as well as conquer incredible pain.

“I am feeling so much better now – both physically and mentally.

“It’s been a very hard four years to say the least but I’m definitely heading in the right direction now,” insisted Ben.

“It is difficult to know where to start, I’ve been hit by that much.

“But in a way a turning point came when my story appeared in the Harborough Mail last December.

“My very good friend Lisa Barnes, a cancer nurse, spoke to the paper as she launched a fundraising effort to help fund all my treatments.

“The response was so amazing that she raised over £10,000.

“But the story – which came totally out of the blue – did so much more for me than bring in money,” said Ben.

“It put me back in touch with so many good people in and around Market Harborough that I had been sort of hiding away from.

“I wasn’t sure that I wanted to keep explaining to people that I had cancer and wasn’t very well.

“But the story in the Mail told them all in one go.

“Before I knew it I was being flooded with goodwill messages.

“Cards were pushed through my door, my phone never stopped.

“I was getting messaged by people I’d done work for over the years here telling me their kitchens were still standing!

“To get all that love and to win so much support was unbelievable – I was overwhelmed,” smiled Ben.

“Have no doubt about it.

“All of that love, that compassion and caring has been a massive tool in helping me to heal.

“A leader never goes to war without an army.

“And I’ve got my very own army of warrior supporters marching into battle alongside me as I could never fight this thing by myself.”

Ben’s titanic life-and-death struggle with cancer began in 2017 – 12,000 miles away on the other side of the world.

He underwent emergency surgery to remove a killer tumour wrapped around his heart after venturing out to New Zealand to start a new life.

Ben was then swiftly flown back to the UK to be treated here.

But his momentous rollercoaster crusade to get well has taken a whole string of dramatic twists and turns.

He had several rounds of chemotherapy which caused sepsis and almost killed him before the cancer returned in his lungs and chest wall last year.

“I also suffered severe nerve damage from my treatment and the immune-suppressant medication I had to take,” said Ben.

He was tortured every day by crippling pain across his right arm, right side of his chest and the right half of his upper back.

“It was truly horrible.

“I’ve always loved walking and the fresh air,” said Ben.

“But I couldn’t walk for 10 minutes before I was done.

“I had a life-changing operation on my nerves at a specialist centre in Bristol in January.

“It’s gone ever so well and I’ve improved no end.

“The terrible nerve pain was destroying my life so this has literally been a huge step forward,” said Ben.

“I’ve been able to ride my motorbike again for the first time in ages and get back on my cycle.

“I have been receiving hyperbaric oxygen therapy in Leicester two or three times a week as well as getting high doses of vitamin C infusions.

“I am just so grateful to the many people out there who have got behind me because these treatments are not cheap.

“And I was very low when I got back here from New Zealand because I wasn’t entitled to benefits at first and I obviously couldn’t work.

“I had nothing but credit card debt,” admitted Ben.

“But my whole life has been transformed over the last few months.

“I’ve met so many amazing people through the holistic therapies I’ve been having and they have helped me to make me so positive, so upbeat.

“I’ve tapped into and fed off their experiences fighting cancers as well as being powered up by their expertise and their positivity.

“It sounds cliched but jumping back on to my motorbike and going out for a walk have given me a reason to live,” insisted Ben.

Asked what he would like to focus on in future, he replied: “Like a lot of people who have been in my position I’ve totally re-evaluated my life and what I want to do.

“I want to help people with cancer in a holistic way.

“So I’m training to be a medical herbalist so that I can give something back - because it’s been very humbling to have been supported by so many fantastic people,” said Ben.

Inspirational Ben will be climbing on to his trusty Royal Enfield Himalayan motorbike at John O’Groats with his pal Wesley to kickstart their 1,400-mile odyssey on Friday July 23.

“We are hoping to ride for six to seven hours a day and we are aiming to reach Land’s End in five or six days,” said Ben.

“It’s going to be just about the best thing I’ve ever done and I can’t wait to hit the road.

“It really is upwards and onwards for me from now on.

“And I want to say an enormous thank you to everyone who is getting behind me as I do my best for two treatment centres which have helped to give me my life back.”

You can back Ben as he gets on his bike by visiting his fundraising website here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/himmys-for-health