Cycling around the world with cancer, Luke Grenfell-Shaw arrives in Pakistan

Luke Grenfell-Shaw, center, arrives in Pakistan's capital Islamabad on a tandem on November 16, 2021. (Photo courtesy: @bristol2beijing/Instagram)
Short Url
Updated 16 November 2021
Follow

Cycling around the world with cancer, Luke Grenfell-Shaw arrives in Pakistan

  • Luke Grenfell-Shaw was diagnosed with late-stage cancer two years ago but continued with rigorous physical activities like running marathons
  • Last year, he decided to bike across the world on a tandem to raise money for organizations fighting cancer

ISLAMABAD: A British man, who set out to cover 30,000 kilometers across the world on a tandem after being diagnosed with late-stage cancer at 24, found himself mesmerized by the exquisite landscapes in northern Pakistan.
Luke Grenfell-Shaw was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive sarcoma in June 2018 which had metastasized into his lungs. Yet, he decided to fight back by performing physically strenuous activities such as running a marathon in his hometown of Bristol in the United Kingdom.
In 2020, Grenfell-Shaw launched Bristol-2-Beijing, his plan to bike across the world not only to raise money for organizations fighting cancer but also to create awareness about what people with cancer were capable of. With a goal of raising GBP 300,000, he set off to introduce the world to “CanLivers.”
“Rather than the word ‘cancer survivor,’ which I think gives this false sense of certainty, I coined the word ‘CanLiver,’ or someone who is living with cancer,” he told Arab News on Monday while making a stopover in Islamabad. “Such people acknowledge their situation and the challenges and uncertainties associated with it, though they also demonstrate how people can live with cancer and still manage to fulfil their dreams and do much more.”
Grenfell-Shaw decided not to let his diagnosis stop him from living the life the way he wanted.
“There’s so many things that we can’t control, but it’s really important that we think about what we can control and do as much as possible with those things,” he continued. “I couldn’t control whether I had cancer or not, but I could control how I tried to live with it.”
“You only live once so you might as well make the best of it,” he added after a brief pause.
Before arriving in Islamabad, Grenfell-Shaw had already ridden across Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia. In Pakistan, he spent two weeks in the country’s north, biking through the Khunjerab Pass and taking in the mountains and landscapes of Hunza.
“We cycled across Pakistan for about two and a half weeks, covered 900 kilometers and did 9,000 meters of climbing. That’s insane! That’s more than like going through Kyrgyzstan, which is known as the Switzerland of Central Asia. The amount of climbing we did was ridiculous, like more than K2,” he said.
Grenfell-Shaw will be heading to Lahore from Islamabad where he will visit Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Center and make a donation.
He said his time in Pakistan had been a “really positive, warm experience.”
“I have been to many countries throughout the Middle East and Central Asia and I was really optimistic and expected a very warm welcome [in Pakistan],” he said. “That’s what so many Muslim countries actually give you. They are really, really hospitable. And that’s exactly what we’ve found here. It has been amazing that we had so many offers of chai. When the bike fell apart, people just came in and helped repair things. It’s been a really positive, warm experience.”
Grenfell-Shaw, who started his journey in January 2020, is doing so on a tandem bike, one that allows two people to cycle together. It was a decision he took to make his journey more inclusive by inviting people to join him from around the world.
Among the 150 people who joined him, 11 were CanLivers, “showing what’s possible with cancer.”
“I wanted to share this journey with different people because when you share an experience, it’s no longer a memory and becomes a conversation,” he said. “You develop friendships, much deeper friendships than you would with people otherwise, and you get to know people in a totally different way. So, for me, it’s a much richer way of traveling.”
One of the people who joined him on his bike was his university classmate and close friend, Edward Joseph Mitchell, who accompanied Grenfell-Shaw as he rode through northern Pakistan.
“When Luke got his diagnosis, as his close friend I was quite shocked, but we were all there for him immediately,” Mitchell told Arab News. “It’s crazy. Really. He is so fit and active and it’s incredibly encouraging for anyone. I don’t know anyone else who is as strong willed and as powerful and as positive as Luke is. It’s quite commendable on so many levels.”
Grenfell-Shaw, who is now in remission, will soon be heading toward India, Myanmar and China.
He has 13,000 kilometers left before he hits his final destination: Beijing.
Of his GBP 300,000 goal, he has already crossed GBP 100,000.
He also actively updates his followers about his location in the world by sharing latest news on his progress through his website, podcast and social media accounts.


Pakistan PM finds rough landing of Iranian president’s helicopter ‘distressing,’ awaits ‘good news’

Updated 13 sec ago
Follow

Pakistan PM finds rough landing of Iranian president’s helicopter ‘distressing,’ awaits ‘good news’

  • Iranian media says the helicopter landed roughly while crossing a mountainous area on way back from Azerbaijan
  • In April, President Raisi visited Pakistan as the two neighbors sought to mend ties after tit-for-tat strikes this year

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday reacted to the “distressing news” about rough landing of a helicopter carrying President Ebrahim Raisi in Iran’s northwest, saying he was anxiously waiting for the “good news.”

The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian landed roughly when it was crossing a mountainous area in heavy fog on the way back from a visit to Azerbaijan, according to Iranian media.

The bad weather was complicating rescue efforts, the IRNA state news agency reported. Interior Minister Ahmed Vahidi told state TV that one of the helicopters in a group of three had “come down hard,” and that authorities were awaiting further details.

“Heard the distressing news from Iran regarding Hon. President Seyed Ibrahim Raisi’s helicopter. Waiting with great anxiety for good news that all is well,” PM Sharif said on Twitter.

“Our prayers and best wishes are with Hon. President Raisi and the entire Iranian nation.”

Raisi, 63, was elected president at the second attempt in 2021, and since taking office has ordered a tightening of morality laws, overseen a bloody crackdown on anti-government protests and pushed hard in nuclear talks with world powers.

In Iran’s dual political system, split between the clerical establishment and the government, it is the supreme leader rather than the president who has the final say on all major policies.

But many see Raisi as a strong contender to succeed his mentor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has strongly endorsed Raisi’s main policies.

In April, Raisi arrived in Islamabad on a three-day official visit to Pakistan as the two Muslim neighbors sought to mend ties after unprecedented tit-for-tat military strikes earlier this year.

The Iranian president had held delegation-level meetings in the Pakistani capital as well as one-on-one discussions with Pakistan’s prime minister, president, army chief, Senate chairman and National Assembly speaker.

During the visit, Raisi had also overseen the signing of eight agreements between the two countries that covered different fields, including trade, science technology, agriculture, health, culture, and judicial matters.


Turkish FM arrives in Islamabad amid Pakistan’s efforts to attract foreign investment

Updated 35 min 8 sec ago
Follow

Turkish FM arrives in Islamabad amid Pakistan’s efforts to attract foreign investment

  • Pakistan last month completed a short-term $3 billion IMF program that helped stave off a sovereign default last year
  • The country is still dealing with high fiscal shortfall and has to meet a primary budget deficit target of $1.4 billion by June

ISLAMABAD: Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan on Sunday arrived in Islamabad on a two-day official visit to Pakistan, the Pakistani foreign ministry said, amid efforts by the South Asian country to boost foreign direct investment.

Islamabad has seen a flurry of high-level exchanges from diplomats and business delegations in recent weeks from Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Azerbaijan, Qatar and other countries.

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has vowed to rid the country of its chronic macroeconomic crisis through foreign investment and efficient handling of the economy.

Upon arrival in Islamabad, Pakistan’s Additional Foreign Secretary Ambassador Ahmed Naseem Warraich received the Turkish foreign minister.

“Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan will call on Prime Minister Muhammad Shehbaz Sharif and hold extensive discussions with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar,” the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The two sides will review the state of bilateral relations and assess preparations for upcoming high-level engagements between the two countries.”

Pakistan, which has been facing low foreign exchange reserves, currency devaluation and high inflation, completed a short-term $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) program in April that helped stave off a sovereign default last year.

However, the South Asian country is still dealing with a high fiscal shortfall and while it has controlled its external account deficit through import control mechanisms, it has come at the expense of stagnating growth, which is expected to be around 2 percent this year, compared to negative growth last year.

Pakistan has to meet a primary budget deficit target of Rs401 billion ($1.44 billion), or 0.4 percent of its gross domestic product, for the current fiscal year before the government presents its budget in June. The country is already in talks with the IMF for a fresh, longer-term bailout.


Pakistan Deputy PM to attend SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Kazakhstan tomorrow

Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

Pakistan Deputy PM to attend SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Kazakhstan tomorrow

  • The SCO is a major trans-regional organization and its member states collectively represent nearly half of world population
  • Deputy PM Ishaq Dar will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts on sidelines of the SCO Foreign Ministers’ meeting

ISLAMABAD: Ishaq Dar, Pakistan’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, will attend a meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) on Monday, Pakistani state media reported.

Founded in 2001, the SCO is a major trans-regional organization spanning South and Central Asia, with China, Russia, Pakistan, India, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan as its permanent members. The SCO member states collectively represent nearly half of the world’s population and a quarter of global economic output. 

The organization’s agenda of promoting peace and stability, and seeking enhanced linkages in infrastructure, economic, trade and cultural spheres, is aligned with Pakistan’s own vision of enhancing economic connectivity as well as peace and stability in the region. 

The two-day meeting of the SCO Council of Foreign Ministers will begin in Astana on Monday, according to the state-run Radio Pakistan broadcaster.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Muhammad Ishaq Dar will represent Pakistan at two-day meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of Shanghai Cooperation Organization, beginning at Astana in Kazakhstan tomorrow,” the report read.

“The Foreign Minister will also hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts on the sidelines of the Council of Foreign Ministers meeting.”

Since becoming a full member of the SCO in 2017, Pakistan has been actively contributing toward advancing the organization’s core objectives through its participation in various SCO mechanisms.

During his visit to China this week, Dar also met SCO Secretary-General Ambassador Zhang Ming and reiterated Pakistan’s commitment to the organization’s charter and its ideals, the Pakistani foreign ministry said in a statement.

“He expressed Pakistan’s strong commitment to advancing SCO’s security and development cooperation agenda,” the statement said.


Pakistan’s Punjab warns of ‘intense’ heatwave in southern districts next week

Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

Pakistan’s Punjab warns of ‘intense’ heatwave in southern districts next week

  • Authorities asked to set up heatwave counters in all hospitals, ensure supply of essential medicines
  • Citizens are requested to take precautionary measures, avoid exertion and exercise in strong sunlight

ISLAMABAD: Authorities in Pakistan’s Punjab province have warned of an “intense” heat wave in southern districts of the province next week, urging people to take precautions and avoid going outdoors unnecessarily.

There is a severe risk of heatwave in Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Multan districts from May 21 to May 27, according to the provincial disaster management authority (PDMA).

Authorities have been given instructions to set up heatwave counters in all hospitals and ensure the supply of all essential medicines.

“All departments can fight heat wave by working together and cooperating [with each other],” PDMA Director-General Irfan Ali Kathia said in a statement. “The next ten days are predicted to be engulfed by severe heat wave.”

Climate change-induced extreme heat impacts human health in multiple ways. Direct effects of exposure to extreme heat and heatwaves can include heat-related illnesses such as heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke, and hyperthermia. It can make certain chronic conditions worse, including cardiovascular, respiratory, and cerebrovascular disease and diabetes-related conditions, and can also result in acute incidents, such as hospitalizations due to strokes or renal disease.

Citizens are being informed about the dangers of heatwave through print, electronic and social media, according to the PDMA DG.

“The public is requested to take precautionary measures. Avoid exertion and exercise in strong sunlight,” he said. “Do not step out of the house unnecessarily. Wear light colored cotton clothes.”

People may dial the PDMA helpline 1129 or Rescue 1122 in case of an emergency situation, the official added.

Increased exposure to heat, and more heatwaves, have been identified as one of the key impacts of climate change in Pakistan, with people experiencing extreme heat and seeing some of the highest temperatures in the world in recent years. The South Asian country of more than 241 million, one of the ten most vulnerable nations to climate change impacts, has also recently witnessed untimely downpours, flash floods and droughts.

According to the Global Climate Risk Index, nearly 10,000 Pakistanis have died while the country has suffered economic losses worth $3.8 billion due to climate change impacts between 1999 and 2018. A deadly heatwave that hit Pakistan’s largest city of Karachi, the capital of Sindh, claimed 120 lives in 2015.

In 2022, torrential monsoon rains triggered the most devastating floods in Pakistan’s history, killing around 1,700 people and affecting over 33 million, a staggering number close to the population of Canada. Millions of homes, tens of thousands of schools and thousands of kilometers of roads and railways are yet to be rebuilt.
 


Helicopter carrying Iran’s president suffers a ‘hard landing,’ state TV says without further details

Updated 19 May 2024
Follow

Helicopter carrying Iran’s president suffers a ‘hard landing,’ state TV says without further details

  • Ebrahim Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province
  • State TV described the area of the incident as being near Jolfa

DUBAI: A helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi suffered a “hard landing” on Sunday, Iranian state television reported, without immediately elaborating.
Raisi was traveling in Iran’s East Azerbaijan province. State TV described the area of the incident happening as being near Jolfa, a city on the border with with the nation of Azerbaijan, some 600 kilometers (375 miles) northwest of the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Raisi had been in Azerbaijan early Sunday to inaugurate a dam with Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev. The dam is the third one that the two nations built on the Aras River.
Iran flies a variety of helicopters in the country, but international sanctions make it difficult to obtain parts for them. Its military air fleet also largely dates back to before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Raisi, 63, is a hard-liner who formerly led the country’s judiciary. He is viewed as a protégé of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and some analysts have suggested he could replace the 85-year-old leader after his death or resignation from the role.