Surviving cancer can change anyoneâ??s outlook on life, and one man has been riding a bicycle cross-country in Europe, Canada, and the U.S. to inspire others to seize the day, because one day it will be your last.
In 1987, at the age of 29, German-born Randolph Westphal was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Doctors told him he had six months to a year left to live.
Westphal wallowed in a deep depression for some time after hearing the news, but then, as he puts it, â??I decided not to die.â?? Instead, he started bicycling across the Alps and into Hungary just to prove to himself that he could. Then he didnâ??t stop.
During a trip across Canada, a doctor in Quebec invited him to speak to a group of cancer patients and their families. Westphal was nervous about speaking in front of a crowd, but his story moved many to tears.
Heâ??s been in a few accidents during his travels, including a horrific hit-and-run in Argentina that nearly cost him his left leg. Doctors said heâ??d never walk again. He proved them wrong.
â??There are people running always to the doctor saying, â??Doctor, heal me,â?? said Westphal at a Days Inn in Amarillo. â??No doctor in the whole world can heal. He can make operations, he can make treatments, he can do everything that is in his power. But to heal is everyone on his own, and thatâ??s starting in the mind.â??
Now, 26 years after his initial diagnosis of cancer, he and Chinook and Nanook, his two huskies, have traversed entire countries on his bicycle, racking up an estimated 211,000 kilometers, or 131,000 miles. The circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles, meaning heâ??s biked the equivalent of circling the planet more than five times. And at the age of 55, he doesnâ??t plan on quitting anytime soon.
Randolph says his favorite places are the Swiss Alps, the Pacific Northwest, and British Columbia. He shies away from Asia and Africa, because the sun is not good for his melanoma, and the heat is not good for his dogs, as he says, â??I donâ??t go to those places because Iâ??ve got sled dogs and not a camel.â??
He survives mainly on donations, and many hotels will put him up free of charge for a night or two before he moves on to the next destination. His purpose is to inspire people to live the fullest life they can, and embrace all the world has to offer.
â??I say always to the people, â??Donâ??t sit in the corner and wait for your death," said Westphal. "Open your eyes and lift up your head. The world is beautiful. You must do what you like to do; itâ??s really important. You must take the best drug â?? that is life. You must believe in God and you will have sunshine in the night.â??
You can learn more about Randolph, his story, and his travels at the links attached to this story.