A LURGAN teenager who battled to overcome cancer is getting on his bike to say thank you.
13-year-old Andrew Gamble from Glenshane Avenue will be doing the 81-mile Lap The Lough challenge on Sunday, August 28, in aid of Northern Ireland Cancer Fund For Children.
Andrew was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia when he was two and a half years old.
Not only did Andrew make a brave recovery from cancer at the age of seven, but he’s also taken to cycling like a natural.
He took up cycling at the beginning of the year in order to get stronger and improve co-ordination which had been affected by his treatment over the years and has developed a real passion for it.
Andrew said: “I’ve tried most sports, but I’ve never really found one I liked until now.
“I got into cycling through my uncle Paul Anderson. He’s been a member of Banbridge Cycling Club for 15 years.”
Andrew has now joined the same club. He said: “We started off doing Newry Canal or the Belfast Towpath. We started building up from 15 mile journeys to doing the roads whenever I got my licence.”
Andrew explained that as a member of a cycling club you have to have a licence to ride on the roads, whereas regular cyclists don’t require one.
He added: “The furthest we’ve done is 51 miles to Newry and back. I’m confident we can do the extra 30 on the day.”
Andrew’s mum Laura explained how important it was to find a source of exercise for Andrew. She said: “Andrew had very loose joints because of all the time he spent off his feet when he was very young.
“We’d tried to get him active with a number of sports, but he didn’t get one to suit him. All the other boys had so many years on him and he found it hard to catch up.
“He found cycling himself. He loves it.”
Andrew was last in hospital when he was a P7 pupil at Waringstown Primary School. Now he’s at Lurgan Junior High School, going into third year this September. His favourite subject is Technology and ICT and he’s heavily involved with LJHSTV.
He’s been clear of cancer for over six years, getting yearly check ups at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children.
Laura said: “The staff still recognise him even though he was a wee boy when he went in.
“Andrew knows that there’s more children like him who will need the same sort of treatment he got. That’s why he chose to do something for a children’s cancer charity to give something back.”
Andrew said: “I decided one day I wanted to do an event for charity. I chose Lap The Lough as my challenge. The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children was the first charity I thought of.”
Every week in Northern Ireland, three children, teenagers and young adults are diagnosed with cancer. The Northern Ireland Cancer Fund for Children is a local cancer charity that works with children, teenagers and young adults up to 24 years old living with cancer, as well as their parents, siblings and other family members, providing practical, emotional, social and financial support.
Some of the ways the charity do this is through a financial assistance programme which provides mileage and home heating grants, extensive family and youth support services and respite facilities.
During Andrew’s treatment, his family accessed family support both in the home and a social setting, and regularly met with other families to create a special network of support, which included events such as shopping trips, coffee mornings and various outdoor picnics and cinema trips.
In order to donate to Andrew’s charity effort go to: uk.virginmoneygiving.com/andrewgamble1