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TR Press UK - 01-07-2018
We can put Otto’s cancer behind us when we reunite in Paris
When Jussi Malinen reunites with his family in Paris on Saturday, it’s not just Team Rynkeby’s annual bike ride to the French capital that is completed. The reunion also marks the end of his five-year-old son’s cancer treatment.
Stage 1, Lübeck: For most Team Rynkeby riders, the trip to Paris has only just begun. But for Jussi Malinen from Team Rynkeby – God Morgon Jyväskylä, it will soon have been underway for a week.
The 41-year-old father of three kissed his wife and children farewell in front of their home in Joensuu in the eastern part of Finland on Monday and then got in the saddle to cycle the more than 140 km to Kuopio University Hospital.
The hospital was the family’s home for almost 200 days when the middle son – the now five-year-old Otto – was diagnosed two and a half years ago with acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).
Otto’s treatment was completed in May, and that was to be marked with a small two-day detour around the hospital before he formally started the tour with his teammates in Jyväskylä on Wednesday.
“It has been a dream for us that I should do this. Ever since I first learned about Team Rynkeby – God Morgon, my wife, Liisa, and I have been talking about a trip to Paris that would be the right way to conclude Otto’s treatment,” says Jussi Malinen.
“For us this is a family event. We’ve planned the trip for almost two years – during the long hospital admissions we talked about how Otto’s treatment was to end with a trip to Paris and Disneyland together with his older brother, Aleksi (7). The trip to Paris completes a chapter in our lives and allows us to look ahead,” he continues.
Tough on the family
Otto's cancer was discovered when he suddenly began to develop bruises on his entire body for no apparent reason. The doctors initially estimated that Otto had good chances of survival, but the treatment was tough on the whole family.
“In a moment, our whole world was turned upside down,” he says.
“Otto had a lot of infections, which was hard enough in itself. But when a child gets cancer, the family is also often divided. While Otto was hospitalized, my wife and I lived two nearly separate lives. While one of us was in the hospital with Otto, the other was at home with Aleksi. It’s tough on a family,” says Jussi Malinen.
Where the money comes from
When Otto had been in treatment for a year, Jussi Malinen attended a network meeting of the Finnish Children’s Cancer organization Sylva, together with other fathers of children with cancer. It was at that meeting that he first learned about Team Rynkeby – God Morgon and the charity bike team’s amazing work for Finnish children with cancer.
“I am very impressed by how good the treatment is for children with cancer is in Finland, and I know how important Sylva’s work is for the families who are affected. But I didn’t know where the money came from before I heard about Team Rynkeby – God Morgon,” he says.
“I knew right away that I had to be part of the cycling team when Otto’s treatment had ended. My wife and I therefore agreed that when I rode to Paris, the family would travel there,” he says, and is clearly touched by what will await him when Team Rynkeby arrives in Paris on Saturday.
“It’s so close now – it’s going to be amazing,” he says.
This story has been translated into English by Semantix Translations Denmark A/S.