Jon (foreground) and Dom on their bikes in Deira. The brothers plan to follow the Tropic of Cancer eastwards across Asia, Mexico and Cuba. Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News

Dubai:  After Jon Wright twice survived testicular cancer, he and his brother Dom decided to cycle along the Tropic of Cancer to raise awareness about the disease.

Jon had a tumour removed in June 2007. However, 12 months later, the disease came back to haunt him.

After months of radiotherapy treatment, Jon started cycling to regain fitness.

"I started commuting to work, and then I began to imagine a huge challenge that could kickstart a huge awareness campaign.

"It's my way of getting even with cancer and creating something positive from the situation."

The first leg of the 17,700-kilometre journey across the Tropic of Cancer has been completed.

Jon, 27 and Dom, 32, started their journey at the Bank of England in London and cycled down through France, Italy, and Sicily before crossing to Tunisia.

By cycling an average of 104km a day, the siblings' aim is to complete the journey within nine months.

They are currently in the UAE and plan to follow the Tropic of Cancer eastwards across Asia, Mexico and Cuba.

The plan is to finish the challenge in Cuba by June 21, 2010 — the longest day of the year which according to Jon "signifies the long life that can be enjoyed after a diagnosis of cancer".

Using customised Panorama bicycles and a Ridgeback Voyager, the two have encountered several challenges along the way — from having to cope with torrential rains in Italy, visa issues and language barriers.

"It's certainly not easy, it's a challenge, but at the end it's what drives us," Jon said.

"We do bicker sometimes, but that's what strengthens the bond," he added with a chuckle.

"The biggest boost we got was when we were in Egypt. There were these kids giving us high-fives as we cycled through. That is really uplifting especially during long days."

The boys' father, who is a doctor, and Jon's fiancée — both based in the UK — have given them their full support.

"I think what they are doing is fantastic, I was with them during the planning of the routes and I feel like a very proud father," Dr Wright said.

Jon's fiancée, Hally Rose, who was by his side throughout his battle with cancer, says not seeing him for months has been difficult. However, she makes it a point that they chat on Skype often.

Asked if she has a message to send out to cancer patients and their families, she says: "Remaining positive and being surrounded by family and friends is very important. If you are surrounded by positive people and believe in yourself, then it will all work out."

"A big part of Jon's recovery was the book The Secret. He read it throughout his illness and now encourages me to read it too."

The brothers have a little more than Dh600,000 to hit — they have raised 10 per cent and still have 90 per cent to go.

Once the challenge is finished, Jon plans to have a fairytale wedding, having asked his fiancée to marry him in the Caribbean.

Online: Website set up

A website has been set up in honour of this challenge. People can drop in messages of support on www.tccchallenge.co.uk

Added to this, the website has links to Twitter and Facebook, for people to keep in touch.

Similarly, to support the TCC Challenge, donations can be sent to www.justgiving.com/tccchallenge

The proceeds from the donations will go to four cancer charities in the UK: Macmillan Cancer Support, Orchid, Willow and Starlight.

Do you think such initiatives raise awareness? Do you know of anyone who suffered because they were unaware of the symptoms?