TR Press UK - 02-07-2019

Jette’s daughter was diagnosed with cancer at age 14 – now Jette is cycling to Paris with her son-in-law to help other children with critical illnesses

Jette Haugaard and Kasper Mikkelsen are mother and son-in-law. They’re united on Team Rynkeby for a very special reason.

“Kasper probably isn’t up yet,” laughs Jette Haugaard as we meet her in front of the beautifully situated Hotel Heidegrund near Petersfeld in Northern Germany, where Team Rynkeby Østjylland has spent the night prior to Stage 3 of the Tour de Paris.

The sun hasn’t yet risen above the trees, and there isn’t much life around the hotel.

Kasper Mikkelsen is Jette’s son-in-law, and they’ve promised to tell Tour News LIVE why they are cycling to Paris together.

Jette puts down her beauty box (a box with cyclist’s items, ed.) and greets a few teammates who have also risen early.

She can’t quite remember how she and Kasper came up with the idea to cycle to Paris with Team Rynkeby, but the reason itself is very clear for her.

Mette became ill
Back in November 2007, her 14-year-old daughter Mette – who would later become Kasper’s girlfriend – experienced severe pain in her shoulder in the middle of the night.

”She was very upset and in a great deal of pain. We talked a bit and brought the pain down, and next day she was in school. But the next night it happened again, and fortunately she was determined to see a doctor, so we got an appointment immediately,” says Jette Haugaard.

The appointment turned their lives upside down.

“Mette had a lump in her chest – not breast cancer, but Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, which involves the lymph nodes, and 14 days later she was undergoing her first treatment,” explains Jette.

At first, the doctors thought that chemotherapy could successfully treat the lymph node, but things did not go as hoped.

“A new round of treatment was started, and that was also unsuccessful, so they ended up removing the node with an operation in which they entered between the ribs. During summer 2008 she had a stem cell transplant, which meant that she was feeling very low – her immune system was utterly weakened,” says Jette Haugaard.

”And just to be on the safe side, she also had 30 radiation treatments over the course of the autumn,” she continues.

Only doubted once
Although the treatment was tough on Mette, she and the family always had strong faith that she was going to make it.

“We were constantly told that they expected to be able to cure her. And thankfully Mette herself had a strong belief that she would make it,” she says, and takes a moment.

”There was just one time in summer 2008 when she was feeling really poorly, and as a mother I had to ask her if she was frightened that she wouldn’t be okay. And she just said ’I feel so awful, mum!’”

“And then we dealt with it together,” says Jette Haugaard.

It affects the entire family
For Mette, nearly all of 2008 was put on standby, but it wasn’t just Mette who suffered. The illness was also hard on her little brother Simon, who at that point was 11 years old.

“It’s not just the sick child who is affected. It’s also the entire family and especially the siblings. Fortunately, Simon also came through it all right, but naturally it’s a huge worry for a mother on top of everything else. Because there’s no doubt where a family’s focus is directed when a child becomes ill,” she says.

Mette is doing well now.

”She’s healthy for the most part. She has slightly reduced lung capacity because they hit a nerve during the operation. And due to the stem cell transplant, the doctors had to remove one of her ovaries. It will be put back when she is able to become a mother,” says Jette Haugaard.

Below, you can watch Jette and Kasper talk about their trip to Paris in Tour News LIVE.

And it’s going to be a joyous reunion on Thursday when Tour News streams LIVE from Mur de Huy. Mette and Simon will both be there, cheering on Team Rynkeby Østjylland and the other teams as they make the fiercely steep climb in Belgium.

This story was translated from Danish to English by AdHoc Translations.


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