BY TOBY PORTER
A father who took up cycling as a way of coping with the tragic death of his eight-year-old son is taking part in this weekend’s
Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 race to raise money for a blood cancer charity.
Sunday’s race, described as ‘the London Marathon of the cycling world’, starts in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and will see riders travel through the capital and onto Surrey’s country roads, before a spectacular finish on The Mall in central London.
Lukas Paprocki, from Nunhead, decided to take on RideLondon for Anthony Nolan Trust after the death of his son Dorian, who passed away after a battle with leukaemia last year.
Mr Paprocki said: “When Dorian was two years old he was riding his scooter in the park and hit a tree, it was normal for him to have a few bruises, but they just didn’t go away.
We took him to the GP who took a blood test, which revealed that he had leukaemia. It was such a shock.
“Dorian started chemotherapy, but it didn’t really work out the way we and the doctors hoped it would, and in the end, the struggle of trying to treat his leukaemia went on for six years.”
Although treatment initially worked, when Dorian was five his cancer returned for the second time, and doctors decided that a stem cell transplant would be his best option.
Anthony Nolan searched the stem cell register and found him a matching donor and in July 2016 Dorian had his transplant, which involved doctors giving him new, healthy stem cells via his bloodstream.
He recovered well and was able to go back to school and do things he enjoyed, such as riding his bike. However a year later, in July 2017, Dorian’s cancer returned for the third time.
Mr Paprocki said: “Anthony Nolan and Dorian’s donor gave us all a full year free from cancer and the last disease-free moments with Dorian.
It seems so little, a year of life, but to me and him, the fact that he could be in school with other children, ride his bike and scooter, travel and have good time, seems a lifetime.
“To hear that his leukaemia had come back was a huge hit, it was one off the toughest moments of my life. We had to think, what can work, what can we do now?
“When it comes back for a third time, you know that it’s really bad news. There are very few options left. He was given an experimental drug, which killed his leukaemia cells, but he paid an extremely high price. The treatment damaged his brain and left him paralysed and unable to speak.”
Doctors told Mr Paprocki and the rest of his family that Dorian was nearing the end of his life and only had a few days to live. The family decided to take him home, where he could die surrounded by his loved ones.
Mr Paprocki said: “He managed to hold on to his life for a couple of months to show us what a fighter he really was but then in October last year we had to say goodbye to him. It was the end of the world for me.”
And while experiencing such devastating grief, Lukas turned to cycling as a way of coping with Dorian’s death.
He added: “I used cycling as a way of coping. My head was all over the place. Not long after Dorian died I went to Majorca and cycled across the mountains on my own. I cycled more than 500 miles.
“Every day was a big challenge because I was on my own, with my own thoughts, but in life situations like that sometimes you need to be alone. It helped me a lot.
“It becomes all about you and finding the strength to carry on, cycling challenges are very good for that. My bike was the only thing holding me together.”
RideLondon isn’t the only cycling challenge Lukas will be taking on this year, as in June he cycled from London to Land’s End in two days, a distance of more than 300 miles.
Lukas hopes to complete RideLondon in under five hours and has already raised £1,700 for Anthony Nolan, greatly surpassing his target of £1,000.
You can sponsor Mr Paprocki at https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/cyclefordorian
Find out more about Anthony Nolan by visiting www.anthonynolan.org/events.