An inspiring Scots dad is taking on the gruelling Tour de France bicycle route inspired by his daughter who was diagnosed with cancer after having a Covid test.
Allan Dickson’s daughter Olivia, known as Liv, began suffering discomfort last year during the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020.
Allan and his wife Abigail, 46, initially put it down to either growing pains or the fact Liv had previously dislocated her knee.
It wasn’t until the then 12-year-old came down with a fever at school and was sent for a Covid test on November 16 2020 that the real reason behind the pain would be revealed.
The doctor carrying out the test noticed ‘signs’ that a more serious condition could be behind Liv’s symptoms and she was taken to accident and emergency at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to undergo tests.
The family, from Glasgow, were sent home only for Allan to be called hours later.
Liv was rushed back to the hospital where she was given the devastating diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.
Allan, 54, described the shock diagnosis as ‘the worst news any parent could ever hear’.
Speaking to the Daily Record, he said: “ It was a bolt out of the blue.
“In the back of my mind, when she was having issues with her joints, I thought maybe there is something there because there’s a history with cancer in my family but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be that diagnosis.”
The brave teen would spend the next six weeks in hospital before being released home on Christmas Eve 2020.
13-year-old Liv is just over a year into her two-and-a-half-year treatment plan, which includes chemotherapy sessions every week.
Describing his brave daughter, Allan said: “She’s indomitable, her spirit is incredible. She’s a fierce young woman and does it all with a smile on her face. She never complains and always thinks of others before herself.”
But the dad-of-two, who also lost his mum to cancer when he was just 13, admits that Liv’s diagnosis left him feeling ‘helpless’.
He said: “As a parent, your mission in life is to look after and protect your kids.
“When your child gets a cancer diagnosis there’s nothing that you can do or influence.
“You put your child’s life in the hands of the specialists and you’ve just got to be there for moral support and dig deep emotionally.”
The 54-year-old is now determined to help children living with leukaemia – which is the most common form of childhood cancer.
Amateur cyclist Allan, who works in recruitment, will join 25 other riders from all over the world to tackle the Tour de France.
The gruelling cycle will begin in Copenhagen in June 2022 ahead of the professional race.
It includes 21 brutal stages that rack up a total of 3,382km in four different countries over three weeks.
The team hope to collectively raise an eye-watering £1million, which will go to the charity Cure Leukaemia to invest in clinical trials for pioneering treatments.
Allan, who is already cycling around 400km a week in training, said: “Whatever I go through is nothing compared to what these kids go through.
“It’s a small price to pay to help the charity.
“My mission is to try and raise awareness of childhood cancer, increase funding and help families in the unfortunate position we’re in and make life a bit easier for them.
“And, most importantly, to try find a cure.”
Liv has even been given the sign off by doctors to meet her dad for an emotional reunion when he crosses the finish line in Paris on the Champs-Elysees.
You can donate to Allan’s fundraiser here.
email@example.com (Claire Galloway)