If could reach Nicky Hayden or his family right now, I’d like to tell them a small story about 16-year-old me.
When I was 15 I knew nothing about Moto GP or Nicky Hayden. I was an annoying teenager trying to pass maths and look prettier. Then I was diagnosed with stage IV Hodgkin Lymphoma. The cancer had also eaten part of my D5 disk in such a way that the smallest pressure could break it completely and leave me in a wheelchair for life. We all know how devastating cancer is, we all know a story or two, and this one is obviously a happy one for I am writing this letter in perfect health.
As I said I knew nothing about motorbikes, I still don’t, but I had to spend an awful lot of time in bed because of my disk so I came across the start of the Moto GP Championship. They were talking about all the participants and they said of Nicky that despite he had excellent qualities he was unlikely to win the Championship that year. I saw Nicky on screen, smiling, confident. He simply looked like an honestly decent, funny, kind guy and for no particular reason I wished with all my heart that good stuff happened to that nice guy on screen. I started watching the Championship.
I was going through rounds of chemo trying to deal with the fact that I could die anytime, that I would probably not be able to do many things I loved for a long time that I would not be able to travel, that I might never get a boyfriend, that I might never see this, do that, go there.
Race after race, hope was still there. If Nicky could win the championship I could win my championship too. Soon my whole family was hooked. We got together to see the races. There were a couple times when the chemo had taken a toll on me and I wouldn’t even want to watch TV but then my mum would come in, switch on the TV and say: “don’t let him down”.
I remember reading all about Laguna Seca, trying to understand the Corkscrew thing. I remember learning so much about Honda and the kind of bike and the difference between this and that and wishing I had learnt more maths and tech at school. We made distasteful jokes about Dani when that happened. And when Valentino fell we all held our breaths.
Your success was mine, you had made it and so would I. You were unknowingly there for me though the most horrible year of my life and every time something good happened, you scored and you got closer to the Championship my heart brightened and the world was OK for a while.
I wish I could do the same for you. I wish I could tell you not only that I made it but that I graduated without missing a year, that I studied everything I wanted, I’m travelling, I’m in love and I’m now an English teacher in a very good High School. I wish these little things that are so big for me could make a difference in you like you did on me. So many things that can now be because of an excellent team of doctors, my devoted family and you, Nicky Hayden.
Stay strong, Nicky, we are here for you sending you and your family all the love and strength we can, hoping it will reach you somehow and that you will conquer the Championship once more.