Cycling gets him over the rough ride

Businessman Shawn Low, 37, is aiming to cycle 42km at this year's OCBC Cycle The Sportive Ride in May despite undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer. Last year, he even rode 320km from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back with 12 people from his cycling gr
Businessman Shawn Low, 37, is aiming to cycle 42km at this year's OCBC Cycle The Sportive Ride in May despite undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer. Last year, he even rode 320km from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back with 12 people from his cycling group.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

While most people cycle to keep fit, Shawn Low imagines himself battling his inner demons when he cycles.

The 37-year-old was diagnosed with brain cancer eight years ago and has been undergoing chemotherapy.

"After chemotherapy, you will be weak but, every time I cycle, I feel stronger and I get my stamina and energy back faster," said the businessman. "Every time I cycle, I tell myself that I can try to kill whatever's in my body. I imagine myself as a superhero killing the tumour by cycling."

Low started cycling 10 years ago and normally covers at least 60km thrice a week.

When the tumour spread to his spine, his doctor advised him against cycling as it was bad for his spine and recommended swimming instead.

But he continued cycling and even joined a cycling group five years ago.

Last year, he rode 320km from Hanoi to Halong Bay and back with 12 people from that group.

MOTIVATION

Every time I cycle, I tell myself that I can try to kill whatever's in my body. I imagine myself as a superhero killing the tumour by cycling.

SHAWN LOW, on how cycling helps him to battle brain cancer.

In May, Low will be cycling 42km in the OCBC Cycle The Sportive Ride. He first participated in the event two years ago when he wanted to challenge himself. But, this year, he is looking to "take it easy and enjoy the scenery".

"Almost every year, I'll go through some treatment. But, in 2017, I was quite lucky. I had a good period of time when I didn't have to go through chemotherapy so I wanted to give it a try," he said.

"This year, I'll just go slow and enjoy it."

Low had stopped riding long distances regularly this year because of his treatment.

But, about two weeks ago, he resumed and clocked 15km. He plans to increase the distance over time to train for the 42km ride on May 12.

While he admitted that this year's OCBC Cycle may be difficult for him, he is determined to complete it.

He said: "I want to prove to myself that I can achieve this goal I set for myself. The event is motivation for myself to be strong and finish this treatment so that I can participate in it.

"It's something to look forward to after chemotherapy."

He will be doing the OCBC Cycle with eight members of his group.

Fellow cyclist Roland Chong described Low as a resilient person who hardly let his illness get the better of him.

Said the 41-year-old: "Shortly after one of his chemotherapy sessions, Shawn had issues with the vision in one of his eyes. Despite that, he persevered and did several round-island rides with us. The ultimate challenge was when we did the Hanoi to Halong Bay ride.

"Cycling is an endurance sport which is an extension of our character. Through cycling, Shawn has displayed a character stronger than any man I know."

Low hopes to encourage patients undergoing treatment to remain active and positive.

He said: "By keeping active, your body will get stronger and that will naturally make you feel better and happier.

"Don't give up, there are always people around to support you."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2019, with the headline 'Cycling gets him over the rough ride'. Print Edition | Subscribe