Rad Am Ring 2017: A Patient’s Perspective
When I got my diagnosis in 2009, I wasn’t the only one affected by this disease. My partner Erik, my family and friends, they all had to cope with someone in their circle having pulmonary hypertension. Everyone processes something like this in their own way; how they deal with it can affect you as a patient. I couldn’t be more lucky to have my close circle support me by becoming PH-advocates, and my brother, Tommy (always the sporty one in the family), found his way to Team PHenomenal Hope!
Tommy is a passionate endurance cycler, and a while ago he started to look for a way to combine his passion with a way to be a PH-advocate. Team PHenomenal Hope couldn’t be more perfect for him! He got accepted and planned his goals. The first one was the Tour of Flandres, followed by La Vaujany and La Marmotte in France.
I tried to support Tommy by creating a Facebook page and promoting it in the Belgian PH community. When I heard Tommy’s plans to participate in the Rad Am Ring in Nürburg with 19 other team members of Team PHenomenal Hope and Team PHenomenal Hope Germany I knew I this was the opportunity to encourage my brother and meet some of the other members of the team. Erik was also convinced to go, so we booked a hotel in Nürburg.
We arrived at the racing track just after noon, when Tommy was riding his first lap. We got a warm welcome from Sean and Michael, Irish members of the team, who introduced us to the rest of the team. Before we knew it, we were chatting with Australian member Sarah, preparing to takeover from Tommy.
We immediately felt included in the group and sympathized when we saw the first cyclist coming in, breathless from their first lap. When I saw Tommy coming in, I knew this wasn’t a walk in a park.
In the afternoon I had a chat with Alex, member of the German team and father of Greta, a six year old girl with PH. Knowing some children in the Belgian community, it always hits me how strong they are.
Another remarkable fact that hit me was the the participation list of Team PHenomenal Hope which contains several physicians, doctors and researchers. I know for sure now, PH-doctors are special; passionate, empathetic and with a determination to make a difference to the lives of their patients!
19 hours into the race, it was time for us to leave, as we were planning to ride back to Belgium that same evening. We left with a heartwarming feeling, leaving behind Tommy in this group of like-minded athletes to finish the race, and I could not be more proud of my little brother!