We rolled out this morning, led by our own Dr. Stacey, who took us on a short jaunt along the bike path (her daily commute!) to the Health Sciences building at McMaster University, where we were met by dozens of patients, their families, friends and also riders who would be joining us for this special “Ride-Along” day. After breakfast and some remarks by pediatric oncology staff, we did our daily ride dedication.
Alex started playing soccer and hockey when he was six, but his true love was hockey. In March 2007, at age 10, Alex began feeling a great deal of pain in his left thigh. Following a battery of tests, ultrasounds, MRIs, bone scans and ultimately a biopsy, it was determined that Alex had osteosarcoma…bone cancer. He began an aggressive 10-month chemotherapy protocol as well as undergoing two very invasive surgeries. He underwent an 11-hour surgery with 2 medical teams to address the primary tumour in his left femur, nodes on his left lung and his left rib. His femur was replaced with a metal rod, his knee was replaced, and he sported a scar from mid-shin to above his hip. A month later, he again underwent surgery to address the metastases in his right ankle, right hip and right lung. Alex faced these unbelievable challenges with grace and maturity. He struggled through the pain of treatment, and amazed his health team with his progress and determination. Several months later, he developed AML (a form of leukemia) as a result of his treatment. Alex passed away in February 2009, weeks shy of his 12th birthday. Today we will ride for Alex.
For many of the NKCR riders and volunteers, today was a day to see friends and family, and for supporters to ride along with our group. From McMaster, our route took us through Dundas, Waterdown and Lowville, up and over the Niagara Escarpment and back down to the Lakeshore. We had a lunch stop in Oakville, and then a rest stop at Humber College in Etobicoke, where we met up with our police motorcycle escort.
Despite the steady drizzle, the ride into Toronto was magical: our group of about 50 riders cruising along the Lakeshore, with six motorcycle policemen leapfrogging ahead of the group with sirens blaring, stopping traffic at every intersection, as our lengthy peloton made it’s way to downtown Toronto and up University Avenue to the Hospital for Sick Children. At SickKids, we were met by many dozens of friends and family who had come out to meet and wish us well at this important stop on our journey. We headed inside to a reception area where we heard from members of the hospital staff, who thanked us for our efforts to raise funds and awareness for childhood cancer.
Following the reception, we boarded the vehicles and headed to Scarborough for a shower at GoodLife Fitness and a group dinner at Boston Pizza, before heading east to Kingston, where our adventure will resume tomorrow.