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TR Press UK - 30-06-2018
At the touch of a button, little Karen got the whole event underway
Two-year-old Karen was just 4 weeks old when she was diagnosed with an aggressive tumour in her tiny body. Today she was able to send off her father and 400 other Team Rynkeby riders from Copenhagen.
Prologue, Copenhagen: On the stairs in front of Copenhagen City Hall, two-year-old Karen plays with her big brother Alfred, age four.
The small, smiling girl is completely unaffected by the fact that City Hall Square is about to be filled with people – including just under 400 yellow-clad cyclists from nine local Team Rynkeby teams, who on her signal will depart on a 1,300 km bike ride to Paris to benefit children with critical illnesses.
The father of the two children, Johannes Grosbøll-Poulsen, is a rider on Team Rynkeby Copenhagen and one of the yellow-clad charity cyclists who is soon to leave on the cycling trip of their lives.
Unlike his daughter, he can’t help but be somewhat affected by the incredible turnout.
“To be standing here right now is absolutely amazing. I have so many friends and acquaintances and families who have come to say goodbye. It’s just such a wonderful day. It’s a big day, and one that I think I’ll remember forever,” he says, while Karen throws herself into the arms of her mother, Katrine Grosbøll-Poulsen.
Karen had a rough start in life.
For the first three weeks of her life she screamed non-stop. And suddenly one day she would no longer eat.
Karen lay there limply and was so depleted that only a little hoarse sound came out when she tried to scream. Together with Katrine she was hospitalized in Herlev and was put through one test after another. A week after, the family was told that Karen had a tumour in her adrenal gland that had spread to the spine – an aggressive cancerous tumour: neuroblastoma.
“The tumour had grown into the spine, which is enormously painful. This was the explanation for why Karen had screamed so forcefully,” says Johannes Grosbøll-Poulsen.
After twelve weeks of chemotherapy, Karen’s blood counts were so low that she had to have a blood transfusion.
In contrast, the chemotherapy was effective, and Karen's tumour had shrunk so much that the doctors would not subject the baby girl to an operation to surgically remove the last small part of the tumour. Instead, Karen is now being scanned at regular intervals to keep an eye on the remaining part of the tumour.
“Karen is healthy and she’s a happy girl – she’s always been. She was here for tests a little while ago because the chemo she received has reduced her kidney function a little bit – but it’s still within the normal range,” he says.
It was because of Karen’s illness that Johannes Grosbøll-Poulsen came into contact with Team Rynkeby last year.
The Children’s Cancer Foundation had invited the family to participate in Team Rynkeby’s Prologue, and after the cycling trip with Team Rynkeby out of Copenhagen, Katrine suggested to her husband that he should take the trip – to give back to the Children’s Cancer Foundation and the doctors who saved their daughter’s life.
And Johannes has not regretted it for one second.
“It’s been a bit like joining an association in an extremely short period of time and getting a whole bunch of new friends and a new community. I almost spent more time with my teammates than with my family. I hadn’t counted on acquiring so many new friends by joining Team Rynkeby and so many good experiences,” he says, just before Karen with the push of a button puts Team Rynkeby’s 17th Tour de Paris underway with the greatest overall start in the history of the project.
“I am looking forward to having that experience together with Karen and being able to tell her she was here on the actual day and that it was she who put everything in motion.”
You can follow Team Rynkeby’s Tour De Paris on www.team-rynkeby.com/LIVE2018.
This story has been translated into English by Semantix Translations Denmark A/S.