My trip to Italy turned out to be the perfect distraction from the latest MRI results – David Smith MBE

I am awaiting the results of an MRI to let me know what the next year of my life will be like. The tension is now too strong.

Let’s just say my experiences with this have not been great in the past and the way the news has been delivered has been overwhelming.

I was still in great shape when I was told the tumors were back and in that case everything I had worked for was taken away from me. Hours of training have been erased from my body.

No matter how badly I woke up after the surgery, the sport always gave me the focus to come back and the focus to push hard.

But it’s strange because this scan looks different, it hasn’t been as smooth since my last operation as I would have hoped. It’s more the mental side now that strikes me.

With my body still recovering from my cycling training in Belgium, I know that a big boost on the bike before I go for my results might not be the smartest thing physically.

However, sitting in front of four walls or a computer screen while writing my thesis wasn’t going to be great mentally either.

The only time I’m not paralyzed by thoughts of tumors is when I’m immersed in sports.

So, as fast as I could blink, I was on my way to Italy.

Specifically, the Stelvio Pass. Famous for its mix of cycling and the filming site of Top Gear’s supercars, it’s also home to one of Europe’s highest glaciers and that’s where I’m headed.

Having spent time with the British cycling team before my exam, I decided to spend time with the British skiers before the results.

This is my first time to this part of Europe since Dave Ryding won the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Kitzbuhel and now it’s hard to stay somewhere the hotel staff don’t know not who Ryding is.

It’s a nice positive energy, where the focus is on sports rather than my health.

After a long drive, I find a small hotel nestled halfway up the Stelvio. The ideal place to disconnect from all hospital news. Upon entering, there were ski trophies on every wall.

When I took this trip it was to see the British team, and now I was about to meet an icon of Italian sport by pure chance.

Hotel owner Gustav Thoni is a three-time Olympic medalist and former coach of Alberto Tomba. He dominated the World Cup ski circuit, winning four overall titles in the early 1970s.

This puts him alongside ski greats such as Pirmin Zurbriggen and Hermann Maier. He then won everything in sport that there was to win as a coach.

Seconds after entering, the question of what brings me to the Stelvio arises.

“I’m here to see Ryding and the team,” I said.

It’s like the hotel comes to life and before I know it I was in Gustav’s museum – which filled a room full.

It’s hard to imagine a young kid growing up here succeeding in what he did in sport. A hamlet nestled at the foot of the Stelvio hills.

His father built the first ski lift here and I guess as they say the rest is history.

However, the main reason for going all this way was to feel the snow under my feet and see my friends.

The team stays on the glacier and the route is not for the faint hearted. I had to wait to be picked up.

Before I knew it, I was sitting with the team having dinner with a storm battering the windows.

Sitting chatting with Alain Baxter, Ryding and the team, I was free of tumours, hospitals and upcoming scan results.

That’s what I love about sports. I feel blessed to still be able to experience those moments, even though they lessen as my body struggles more and more.

As I drive home on some of the most beautiful roads in Europe, I stop and sit in the mountains and by the lakes.

I even found myself under a glacial waterfall.

It’s important to savor these moments because I know that in the blink of an eye I’ll be sitting across from a neurosurgeon in a small room, finding out what’s in store for me next year.

About Juana Jackson

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