Today I write what I have never written. Today I tell you what I have never told. Many people will not be interested at all, but this is the story of my life, and today I want to share it, with all of you who have given me on this beautiful path, and without asking for anything in return, so much and so much of your love.
(Dani, June 26, 2022)
Confucius said that «we all have two lives», and that «the second life begins when we understand that we only have one».
My second, no doubt, began the morning I heard a doctor say that they had to cut off my leg.
I was 17 years old and had a huge tumor, bigger than the size of a tennis ball, which, aided by my adolescent naivety, had grown relentlessly on my right femur.
That day time stopped. It happens every instant on the planet. Every second, parallel to our lives, someone reaches that turning point that will forever mark their existence. Until, maybe one day, suddenly, that same reality will strike us, hitting us with a blow of life and presenting us an inexorable part of all of us: the death.
But luck was already on my side. An eminent pioneer surgeon in orthopaedic surgery appeared on my way. Together with a long chemotherapy treatment, he saved my leg and signed the main episode of my life. What started as a small nightmare, would become, then unknowingly, a pleasant memory that would define my personality and my way to understanding life.
I spent a year living in a hospital. Being «the daddy» of a pediatric oncology ward where I spent unforgettable moments with doctors, nurses and other children, whom I encouraged, entertained and revolutionized, when the harshness of the treatment allowed it.
But let’s not fool ourselves, not everything was so pleasant. It is precisely the harshness that often teaches us the most. Several children, friends, died next door. I still remember the last looks of some of them. How could I, from then on, get out of there and join «normal life» again, «complaining about something» or begin to understand life without valuing every second as a gift?
Trust the doctors, but NEVER believe in LIMITATIONS.
I have a recognized disability. I don’t need any paper to prove it: I have a piece of artificial bone anchored to the original femur with a prosthesis, and in the surgery they removed a lot of muscle mass from that leg. I have and have had pain, I lost strength, agility, mobility, and I had to give up some passion I had practiced since I was a child, such as soccer (not that I was very good, but suddenly I became worst player on Earth). Medically, I was also told that in order to walk long distances, I would need crutches.
I myself spent years internalizing those limitations. For many years I NEVER thought I could run one Kilometer or ride a bike.
With that same leg I started climbing mountains. With that same leg I ended up running ultramarathons of up to almost 100 kilometers in the mountains, climbing peaks on snow and ice in the middle of winter, finishing among the first in a mountain race, or running 10 kilometers in just 41 minutes. With that same leg I have pedaled a 75Kg bike through the Andes mountain passes at 5000 meters of altitude, more than 65000 kilometers around the planet or even more than 200 km in one day with a loaded bike.
I will say it again: trust the doctors, but NEVER believe in limitations. Motivation and passion can take you where you never thought, and in its proper measure, it will be the vehicle that will undoubtedly lead you to fulfill each of YOUR DREAMS. Don’t lose focus on them for a moment. This is too short.
Cancer is the story of my life. Without it I would not be what I am now, and although it sounds paradoxical, I feel truly privileged.
But the same cancer passed my father away when I was a baby, only two years old. The same cancer also passed my mother away. A vital blow that was hard to take, a few years after having overcome mine, when I was only 21 years old. And the same cancer, truncates my plans today for the third time in my life.
Two years ago, after more than six years traveling around the world by bicycle, and coincidentally in Spain, where we returned from Central Asia because of the pandemic, I was diagnosed with a tumor in my colon.
Time stopped again, but «luckily» the shock was short-lived. There was a surgery from which I recovered «surprisingly» quickly, and a 6-month chemotherapy treatment, to which I adapted «surprisingly» well. For half a year, the treatment consisted of 3 days of chemotherapy, followed by about 9-10 days of waiting (necessary for the body to recover its defenses). I used those 9-10 days of waiting together with Judit to climb all the Pyrenean passes with our loaded bikes. There is no virtue, only, as I said, passion and motivation to enjoy every second of this beautiful life.
We have continued to travel full time, enjoying every moment, until a few days ago, after a year and a half of finishing the treatment, in one of the tomographies that I have to undergo as a control, the cancer has reproduced again.
I will not deny it, these have been difficult days. Two days before flying to Kyrgyzstan, and feeling physically better than ever (without any symptoms attributable to the new disease), it has taken a few days to get over the shock.
I will not deny that this time the difficulty increased. We have climbed one more step of gravity, which also makes me decide to reveal all this to you.
Now it is time to face another spiral of chemotherapy and (hopefully) surgery, which I will face with all my energy to be able to be «a little bit more» sharing smiles with you.
Many will see in these lines a story full of misfortunes, but I still feel privileged.
My positivity, my character, and my way of living are not an innate virtue, but have been forged after having lived with these types of obstacles.
The «self-help gurus» will tell you that the way of understanding life and experiences is a simple matter of perspective, but the reality is that unfortunately our mind (our biggest handicap) often finds it difficult to make «click», to feel something it has not experienced, or to prepare and change, after simply reading a few motivational lines. If only it were as easy as «putting on the right glasses».
In spite of this, I will never give up in my efforts to emphasize to my close people the importance of ATTITUDE in the face of adversity, of using TIME for what we feel we ENJOY, and of not losing sight (especially in a society full of distractions) of WHAT is truly IMPORTANT in this life. Do not be afraid of change. Do not accept what does not make you feel good, and do not stop rowing, even against the current, towards your dreams. This is too short.
Getting close to death, and having that turning point at the age of 17, has made me spend the best years of my life dedicating myself only and exclusively to one thing: ENJOYMENT. I have lived with these processes. To know how to digest them and to be able to be calm to face them. That I have come to terms with the idea that I may die soon.
This will continue to allow me to enjoy every moment (now even more if possible), as if it were my last one. I will share the days to come with family and friends with intensity; and given the situation, receiving and giving the best of us; those who also, after so many years traveling, I have not been able to have close to me.
All this that I tell you today has never been a taboo for me. Simply something «normal» to which I have played down and which I have reserved for close friends, or for those who have asked me. I have never felt «special», I have never mixed it (let less «used» it) during these years of travel, but someone once told me, that with only one person to whom it can be useful, it may be worth telling.
And don’t worry: I will continue LIVING ON A BIKE until the last moment I can do it. Because if life is made of emotions, I found no other way to collect more…
I can only say THANK YOU. THANK YOU to all those people with whom I have been sharing this path. THANK YOU, especially to those who have given me their affection in these more than 8 years traveling, undoubtedly the best of my life. THANK YOU to my true friends, to my companions on the road, in life, at university, in my town, in the mountains, in my childhood, to my former girlfriends, to my friends who are no longer here. THANK YOU to Judit SPT for her unconditional support. And THANK YOU, to ALL those who are yet to come.
This is ONLY my second last trip. I wait for you, from the bottom of my heart, to share «the last one».