From Cancer Survivor to Handbike Champion
In February 2018, Paul Ramakers, Manager of Belden’s European Distribution Center in Venlo, was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in his right leg. Just two weeks later he had to make a difficult decision to amputate his lower leg. With this life-alerting change, Paul found himself asking questions like: What will my life look like from now on? How long will it take before I can walk again? How would rehabilitation go? Could I continue to live in my own home? How can I properly fulfill my role as a father? Could I still drive a car? What are my career opportunities?
But rather than fighting the change, Paul embraced it and chose to be resilient.
Paul immersed himself in the research about prostheses – what you can and cannot do with it, the tips and tricks of fellow users and also how the coming weeks would go.
“I got energy from what was in store for me, despite the fact that this was the most intense thing that I have experienced in my life,” said Paul.
During his rehabilitation, Paul discovered handbiking – a sport that was completely unknown to him before. His physiotherapist helped him into a bike for the first time and recommend he participate in the "handbike battle Kaunertal," a 20 kilometers handbike race.
“You have to be crazy to do this, which is why I signed up for the challenge that same day!” said Paul.
Belden helped sponsor the cost of Paul’s handbike. Despite it being his first competition, Paul took second place.
Today, Paul is helping people who face similar challenges. He currently works with recent amputees during their rehabilitation and encourages them to “pick up the thread in their lives and to give their life some color again.” He has also begun speaking about dealing with change and building resilience at schools and businesses.
Paul is in the running to become the “Unique Sports Talent” of the year in The Netherlands. The recognition – based on online votes - is awarded by Uniek Sporten, an organization that promotes sports for people with disabilities.
Paul said, “Looking at what you can still do instead of what you cannot do has brought me to where I am now.”