We are now on day 13 of the ride. And a lucky 13 it was, as our day was finally graced with sunshine, a kind breeze and more monarchs than I could count. Also, for the second day in a row I felt surrounded by the love of family.
From the moment I signed up for this ride, everyone welcomed me with open arms to the ‘wheel family’. As we’ve crossed this country, I can certainly say I felt it. While initially I felt like everyone’s annoying little sister that your mom is making you bring along (‘hey guys, wait up for me!’) – as we’ve spent countless hours together, we’ve come to admire each others strengths, helped each other improve where we are able, and held space for each other in the weak moments. There are some things that can’t be fixed on a bike (if at all), but it seems this ride is giving each us moments of pure freedom and joy.
I often get asked if I have a family. At this point in my life, the question means: partner and kids. That I don’t have. But as we’ve crossed this country, I’ve been reminded of the sheer number of amazing relatives I am lucky to call my family. I’ve had cousins, aunts and uncles meet me in many of our stops – from Calgary, to Kelowna, Thunder Bay to Scarborough. Yesterday, all of my siblings came by in the rain with hugs and support – beyond the great (and sometimes hilarious) letters they’ve sent me along the way. And today, with the expert choreography of my mother, I got to see so many more aunts, uncles, cousins, neighbours, and even the paper to welcome us… along with a turkey – as food is how my mom shows love.
And beyond blood, friends – the family we choose – have overwhelmed me with support. From showing up in droves at Mac, and in the rain all across the ride on the 12th, to showing up at a Boston Pizza for a 10 minute hug, to sending your parents to hug me in your place, or bringing the most smiling faces and loudest cow bells I’ve ever seen to stops all along our path, I appreciate you all with all my might. This includes my work family – thank you for all the support you show me, each other and our families every day, and especially yesterday.
I’ve also had a chance to reflect on the families that I feel as though I get to join in some small way – when you let me in to help care for your children. When I started thinking about this ride, I was worried that my families would feel I was abandoning them. I know I have a great team who can watch over everyone without me – but I was worried my families would be worried. Instead, the number of hugs in person and online that I’ve felt from our families is astounding. I even was sent a video of one of my teens riding her bike for the first time in a year, so she could ride in solidarity with me. Experiencing childhood cancer is really isolating for families. As this is the worst nightmare for most parents, being confronted with the reality that one in 250-300 kids will develop cancer before they become adults, is often to much, folks just can’t find words to say, and families find themselves alone. So, being able to make families feel that I am doing everything I can for them, is an amazing feeling. Not everyone needs to undertake a big ride like this, but if everyone could support families experiencing childhood cancer with half the love and support I’ve felt over the past few days – that would be amazing.