Team Rynkeby documentary shown on national television in Denmark in the autumn 2016.
TR Press UK - 03-07-2018
Morten’s daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer, is responsible for getting him into the saddle
When Morten Christiansen’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer, she looked her father straight in the eyes and said that he should apply for a place on Team Rynkeby.
Stage 3, Bremen: Friday evening, before Morten Christiansen got into the saddle to cycle to Paris with Team Rynkeby Odense, he took his family out for a meal.
Morten and his wife Birgitte and the couple’s two daughters, Emma (22) and Freja (18), wanted to mark the night that took place exactly one year ago, when their life was instantly turned upside-down.
On 30 June 2017, Emma was told that the swollen glands on her neck, which she had worried about for a few weeks, were in fact lymphatic cancer.
“She was a tour guide in Crete, and one day she called home to ask us if she should be concerned about the swollen glands. We didn’t think so, but we said that she should seek medical attention immediately,” says Morten Christiansen over breakfast at the hotel in Bremen, where Team Rynkeby Odense has spent the night between the second and third stages of this year’s trip to Paris.
“14 days later, and without notice, she was home in our driveway saying hello. It was a coincidence that she had come home. It was only because Tui, her employer, had allowed her to take a free flight home so she could be checked by her own doctor,” he continues.
From the doctor, Emma was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist and from there on to the hospital. And three weeks after she returned home, she was told that it was cancer.
Six months in hell
Emma had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which is a type of cancer that doctors are relatively good at treating. But Emma’s cancer was advanced.
There are a total of four stages that tell how advanced the cancer is. Stage 4 is the most serious – Emma was in Stage 3.
“We all reacted quite emotionally,” says Morten Christiansen.
“In fact, Emma was probably the strongest of all of us. At one point she looked me deep in the eyes and said she did not want to see me going around blubbing and feeling bad. She suggested that I should use my energy to apply to join Team Rynkeby,” he says.
Emma got into treatment quickly. However, the first treatment that she received had no effect, and therefore they had to change the treatment. This meant that the chemo was harder and the side effects more severe.
“It was six months in hell,” Morten Christiansen remembers.
“Treatment-wise, things have gone pretty smoothly. But it is still hard to see one’s daughter become seriously ill, go bald and lose her eyebrows,” he continues.
Emma is today cancer-free, but she is being checked for relapses every three months. In five years, she will first be considered down to a general risk level to develop cancer.
Meanwhile, the family holds their breath.
“Right now it looks good, but every time we approach a check-up appointment, we get 14 days in hell. That’s why it’s wonderful to sit here and know that at the moment we are doing something good for children who are in Emma’s situation,” says Morten Christiansen, who is grateful that his daughter, a year ago, pulled him up by the collar and got him to join Team Rynkeby.
“It has been incredibly rewarding for me to enter this community. From day one I could get up and explain why I wanted to be part of the team and there has been a huge amount of support. It’s been great therapy. My teammates are good at asking about how Emma is doing – without overdoing it,” he says.
“Team Rynkeby has given me the opportunity to have something else to think about.”
Photo: Private. Morten Christiansen's two daughters, Emma (left) og Freja (right).
This story has been translated into English by Semantix Translations Denmark A/S.