Team Ineos manager Dave Brailsford has revealed details about his prostate cancer diagnosis and recovery for the first time. The 55-year-old underwent surgery just over three weeks ago and is due to discover on Friday whether it was a success.
Brailsford's illness first came to light in a social media post last week, where he confirmed a diagnosis "around Giro time" after being asked why he wasn't running or cycling.
After confirmation of the diagnosis before the Tour de France, Brailsford underwent an open prostatectomy in August.
It was back in February that Brailsford first encountered symptoms, such as chronic fatigue, and a doctor notified him that a blood test indicated a possible prostate problem and that he should have an MRI scan.
"I'm thinking 'this is just a hassle. I'm too busy,'" said Brailsford in an interview with The Times. "Luckily I have a brilliant doctor who put his foot down."
The scan revealed a tumour, and a biopsy held the week before the Tour de France showed a high Gleason Score – an indication of more aggressive form of prostate cancer.
"I try to be matter-of-fact, analytical about things," said Brailsford of his shock. "That wasn't possible then.
"It's easy to think 'why is it happening to me?' I've worked hard on my health so you can get bitter, angry, frustrated. I had to learn to accept it. Talking about it among the team [to psychiatrist Steve Peters] was a massive help."
Brailsford, who was with Team Ineos at the Tour of Britain this week, went to the Tour de France despite his diagnosis, guiding Egan Bernal and Geraint Thomas to a one-two finish. He revealed that he spent time at the race researching the disease, searching Google for information about surgeries and treatments.
"I am thinking 'who knows, I might not do this again?'" he said about the Tour.
After returning from France, Brailsford opted for open surgery, a five-hour operation which meant spending five days in hospital. After recovering from that ordeal, he said there's been something of a change of perspective, mentioning a story involving a charity bike ride.
"It was 1,000 cyclists and he asked if I would pop in to give them a pep talk," said Brailsford. "And I thought 'actually I will'.
"At every race start there will be someone asking for a jersey to be signed for a cause. You try to help but you don't ever think one day you will be the beneficiary, the one in need. That's quite a game-changer. It's very humbling."
Brailsford also said that he and his star rider Chris Froome have been in touch, relating their struggles to one another, and he has plans to visit the four-time tour de France winner.
"Froomey [Chris Froome] was telling me there was a point [after his crash] when he could get out of bed into a wheelchair and go to the loo by himself," he said.
"For him that was monumental. We have been chatting about when I can fly down and we can convalesce together."
Assuming he gets the all-clear, Brailsford said that he will soon be back to what he knows best, back to his winning obsession and the hyper-competitive world of professional cycling, while making plans to give something back.
"Some might say I am obsessive. I see a lot of things as a challenge I have to meet. I can lose perspective and focus on small things. So you do think 'grow up a bit'. Some of the stuff, you get so wound up by. It's liberating in one way, being forced to stop, to consider what you really want.
"To enjoy what I've got, that's what I would say. Hopefully [be] more open too. It's not easy when you are having to talk about cancer to a 14-year-old daughter but it does bring you closer to people. It gives you a different appreciation."
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