A last-stage cancer man cycle around the World

01 July 2021

With the last stage cancer, 57 years old Derek Boocock from England plies his cycle journey through 28 countries to explore the world and inspire other unfortunate people.

After cycling through a series of countries in Europe and Asia, last February Derek Boocock came to Vietnam, paddled throughout the mountainous northwestern provinces, visited Dien Bien Phu and many other interesting sights including Sapa. He plans to spend two months cycling through Vietnam along the Ho Chi Minh road and visit to hospitals where he will share his life experiences with patients.

derek on his way

At the age of 14, the teenage boy Derek was diagnosed with bone cancer and had undergone 3 surgeries and got a piece of his bone replaced. Doctors said Derek could only walk with crutches. When the wound on his leg recovered, Derek leant to walk and after more than a year he surprised many people when participated in the marathon walk of the city.

Joined the British Royal Army at age 21, Derek wished to travel around the World with minimum cost and indeed , he had been going all over Europe , America , Canada within 9 years of his military service. Once on a training course, Derek had his right foot seriously broken. Doctor said he had to leave the army because of poor health but after 3 months of exercise Derek was fit enough to participate in a marathon walk. This event helped him to prolong his stay in the military. "The more people say that I cannot do it, the more I want to prove I can do", said Derek.

derek camping during the journey

After leaving the army, Derek took the job of life skills teaching to children with experiences he learned from the military and sports training, cycling daily.
In 2005, at the age of 49, Derek was discovered to have prostate cancer that resulted in a year of chemotherapy. By 2007, the disease recurred and the metastasis to lungs caused him to have radiation therapy to prevent disease. At the same time, his beloved wife, Caroline Boocock, passed away in 2009 because of breast cancer after a long-term treatment.
“I sank into despair with both physical and mental pain. Lots of negative thoughts came to me when seeing beloved people went away".  Derek said.
Prostate and lung cancer along with all serious problems made Derek lost his voice, tooth and his eyesight seriously decreased.  In 2012, Derek refused the more treatment in hospital since his body was devastated because chemotherapy. "Doctor said I could only live another 12 to 18 months. He asked me what I want to do and my answer was to cycle on the Pamir Highway in Central Asia. This is a beautiful stretch of road that any cyclist want cycle on”.

Only 3 weeks to decide and prepare for the trip, Derek Boocock sold his house and car to pay off debt, household utensils were moving to charities. With just £ 5,000 to cover trip that he planned for 2 years, he bought a sport bike and gathered luggage for the journey that weighs about 70 kg with cooking utensils, clothing, tent and so on... Two of his sons who are living in the UK and the US were seriously concerned about his journey but did not want to prevent their father from implementing his last dream.

Started from Nov 2012, this man cycled from England through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal. In Senegal, Derek got robbed of all his luggage, passports and money and had to return to England for a new passport.
In 3rd March 2013, again from London, Derek cycled through European countries such as Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

From there, he cycled to Asia through Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Kyrgyzstan, he fulfilled his wish of cycling on the Pamir Highway. After that, he went to China by air then cycled from north to south of China and then to Vietnam. To date, he has cycled through 28 countries with total about 30,000 km long distance.

derek has travelled a long journey

Derek said that on his journey he have had chances to enjoy different sceneries, met many interesting people in many countries but there were also a few dangers along the way. He used to pedal hard through the Sahara for two days without any shadow, enduring cold weather of minus 25 degrees C in Kyrgyzstan, hot weather in Turkey ... He also had the unforgettable experience when he could occupy the whole beautiful abandoned castle in a beautiful valley of Morocco.

Though seriously ill but Derek have maintained his paddle of around about 100km every day. He only spends $ 5 a day for food, using his tent for sleeping along the way or in homes of friends around the world he got through the Couch Surfing site. "I like riding on the high mountains to conquer challenges and can look very beautiful landscape beneath ", said Derek.

For the first stage of his journey, Derek did not tell anyone about his serious illness but when met many people from different circumstances, some people lack of hope and confidence in life, he decided to share his story. Derek built the DerekBikeTrip website in the hope that he can share his experiences, love to life with the people he meets along the way.

"Do not just simply believe what others say, the recommendations of the dangerous lands of Central Asia, or even Vietnam. I found these all places very beautiful, peaceful and comfortable. Believe in yourself, believe and you will success ", said Dereck.

he took photos on the way

Derek said that he is so impressed with Vietnamese people; they are very open and friendly. He said an example that when clycling in the Northwest of Vietnam, Derek asked an ethnic family to have his tent erected in the garden for the night, the landlord just said no with that option but offered him a room inside and treated him with hot food.
After leaving Vietnam, Derek plans to continue his journey to Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and then fly to Canada, from there he will cycle to the US...

"You saw difficulties and complain but this world is so beautiful, let's live and enjoy it to the final breath", Derek said. He is optimistic and never thinks about the death. He is healthy and wants to continue his journey in a long time.
How about us?!