‘Ride of Hope’ Biker brings Awareness on Cancer
Mangaluru: A 26-year-old youth, Harteiji Bhartesh from Madhya Pradesh is on a nationwide motorcycle campaign to create awareness among the masses in general and encourage people with cancer to stay strong in their fight against the disease. Travelling solo in his All-India Journey named ” Ride of Hope”, Harteiji who started his journey on May 1, 2016, from Raipur in Chhattisgarh, he will be covering all 29 states in nearly five months with a total of around 30,000 kilometres. After already travelling through four states and eleven cities covering a distance of nearly 5500 kms on his Kawasaki Ninja 300 motorbike, Harteiji made a pit-stop in Mangaluru interacting with media persons and also cancer patients at Mangalore Institute of Oncology (MIO) -Kankanady-Pumpwell.
While studying law at renowned Amity Law School in Noida, Harteiji who was 2 years old developed a swelling on the right side of his neck. Months later, with the swelling persisting, he underwent a biopsy in Hyderabad and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a cancer of the lymphatic system, part of the immune system. After three years and twelve chemotherapy sessions later, he is presently on a mission – ‘Ride of Hope’ on his motorbike to travel solo across every State over five months, interact with cancer patients in hospitals, tell them about his experience and encourage them to stay strong. He is also promoting a healthy diet and is telling people to stop smoking, which leads to lung cancer.
Interacting with the media at MIO, Harteiji explained the ordeals he had undergone because of cancer. He even lost his speech as cancer had spread to his throat. But strict adherence to the regimen of prescribed drugs and change in lifestyle, particularly diet, had brought about a sea-change in his health. As a cancer patient, he had survived the last stage cancer having ‘Hodgkin’s Lymphoma’. He was diagnosed with cancer in July 2013 and took treatment for 9 months. In June 2014 he started chemotherapy from Hyderabad’s Indo American Hospital, where his doctor was Dr Senthill Rajappa. After 12 chemos in 6 months (six sessions) he started cycling, gym to get himself to normal and to get his immunity back. He did all year long in 2015, and in March 2016 he moved to Pune to start his career. He appeared for some job interviews, but being a fresher and a cancer patient, he had no luck in getting a decent job. He being from an educated family thought that this differentiation should not be there, Harteiji started a campaign for cancer named ‘Ride of Hope” to bring awareness about cancer and also educate cancer patients on the deadly disease.
During his ‘Ride of Hope’ campaign, Harteiji visits cancer hospital, old age homes, NGO’s, schools to make them aware about cancer. He narrates and discusses his cancer journey with them, like the food he consumed, the regime he followed, and he promotes chemotherapy since it saved his life. He boosts their morale as when people find they have cancer they start losing hope and stop fighting and get into depression- So he tries to cheer them up as they can relate to him. His aim is to meet cancer patients with their attendees to communicate about cancer and address about him; show them his small cancer journey video of 5 mins; share his regime with them and promote chemotherapy; boost their moral and cheer them up for fighting cancer.
Speaking to Team Mangalorean, Harteiji said, “When I was diagnosed, I was already in the third stage. But, I was determined to complete my degree. I finished college, attended my convocation and then began chemotherapy in May 2014. I should have begun it earlier, but I was afraid. I now tell people not to be scared and to start proper treatment as soon as possible. During Chemotherapy it was not easy, where I lost a lot of weight and a lot of my hair – even my eyebrows, but once finished, I slowly began to recover. Soon, I started cycling, went to the gym, and even began applying for jobs. I went to Pune for an interview, but I was told the job might be too stressful for a cancer patient. I told them I was in remission, but I didn’t get the job,”.
“That is when, with support from family and friends, on May 1, 2016, I began this campaign from Raipur. I cover an average of 500 kms per day in 5-6 hours depending on the weather. My boarding and lodging have been sponsored by NGO’s and other organisations in the cities I make a halt. Here in Mangaluru, stunt bikers team the ‘Team Zero Gravity’ have provided food and accommodation. Everyone has shown full support and people have been friendly throughout my journey. My goal is to meet cancer-affected persons across India and meet leading oncologists. Often, I hear about men abandoning their wives who have cancer and sometimes, even the other way around. I can empathise, as something similar happened to me and I was very depressed for a while”.
“But, I tell the patients they must not lose faith. Cancer can be beaten. Cancer can be 80-90% cured if diagnosed early when symptoms arise. Don’t wait too long, don’t be feared to see a doctor. Eat less sugar, salt and spice. Any drink made with apple, carrot and beetroot had proved beneficial to me-although it is not proven by any research but it worked for me. Drinking water from a copper vessel has also been good, as copper vessels are said to increase the oxygen content in the water kept in it”, added Harteiji Bharthesh.