National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR Day 17 of 18

NKCR Day 17 – Sept. 22
New Glasgow, NS to Lower Sackville, NS

Before I tell you about Day 17, I would like to take you back to Day 4. On that post I told you about Cassy, who’s family completed ALL of her bucket list items with her before she passed away (except a visit to PEI) . Yesterday, we were headed to PEI and thought we’d bring her memory along for the adventure – here is a short video of what the riders experienced while thinking of Cassy –

Day 17 of 18: Overnight the temperatures dropped significantly and this morning we woke up to cool temperatures (4 degrees to be exact). There was a light wind and the riders were a little slow getting out of our warm beds. Once we were up, the clothing decisions began… this would be the coldest start of day that we have experienced so far. That said, we all packed our cold weather gear and by the time we were ready to ride, the temperatures started to warm up a little.

We had a tasty breakfast at the rec centre and we welcomed John back to the tour (he was our technology expert). He had some commitments that prevented him from coming along for the entire route, but managed to join us for the last couple of days. Great to see him with the team again…

Over breakfast, we experienced an amazing serenade from Fiona, who simulated the sound of bagpipes and played us an entertaining song to start the day… we were howling with laughter – she is awesome and we are riding in her home province all day. After breakfast we prepared ourselves for the weather and then made our way to the morning dedication. This morning there were two kids we were riding for…

Today we rode for Greta and Simon.

Simon, was a shy 15 year old boy at first meeting him, but he had a wicked sense of humour and devoured comedy. Simon was going about his daily life when a bout of the flu just didn’t go away.

He began having legs pains and trouble walking. After a second trip to the ER and a blood test, he was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately the genetic markers on the leukaemia cells disclosed that Simon had a rare condition called Hypodip-chromosomes, which meant he would be much harder to treat.

Due to this rarity Simon was the third child at IWK to ever be treated for this. He was put in the high risk category and intense treatments.

During the 11 months of his illness he endured numerous procedures including 2 surgeries, 92+ chemo sessions, 63 blood transfusions, 133 lab test, 6 bone marrow tests, 23 Spinal taps, 18 anaesthetics, as well as many X-rays, ultrasounds, feeding tubes, etc.

On January 10, 2014 Simon passed away at home at the age of 16 surrounded by the people who loved him.


We also rode for Greta, who was a happy, healthy energetic baby. Then she started having some vague symptoms, unexplained fever, a little nausea, less stamina – nothing serious but worrisome enough to make visits to the doctor. After some investigation and nothing showing up her mom knew something was wrong. Her family doctor then sent her to Alberta Children’s Hospital. After various tests she went for an Ultrasound. That’s when their world changed – they found a mass on her liver.

Just before she turned 2 years old, September 23, 2015 Greta was diagnosed with Hepatoblastoma. This is a rare liver cancer found in fewer than 1 in a million children. Greta started her first chemo treatment on her second birthday. She had several more treatments preparing her for a liver resection. The surgery was a major event, even for the surgeon who performed it. This was followed by more chemo and another major surgery to investigate spots on her lung to make sure they were not cancerous – they were not. She tolerated her treatment extremely well. Though she lost her hair and had to be isolated because of low immunity Greta remained a happy, exuberant child. At the end of March she was done her treatment and had “no evidence of disease”. Oncologists said recurrence was unlikely. They enjoyed the summer with Greta and her big brother Ben. Spending lots of time at the lake and watching her change from a baby to a little girl.

Then, on a routine follow up doctor visit in August 2016, it showed disturbing results from a blood test – the cancer was back. She started chemo again almost exactly a year after the first round and were told she would need a liver transplant. Her Oncology team started that process but received the unexpected and devastating news that the transplant board had rejected Greta for transplant. They didn’t give up on the liver transplant, with some options available to explore in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, the treatment protocol Greta started on with her relapse wasn’t working. During the few weeks she was on that treatment, the cancer spread to her lungs.

Taylor, one of our riders who knows Greta, was carrying a stuffed purple bear named, Courage, to take her coast to coast with her and bring her back for Greta, but the night before Terry Fox, she found out that little Greta had been admitted to the paediatric hospice in Calgary and knew what needed to happen. Courage needed to get to Calgary. FAST. We ended our day in Terry Fox where she took the bear and went to FedEx at Thunder Bay airport. It was closed, but she found Dan, an employee for FedEx and he worked magic. He told her that the package wouldn’t arrive until Sunday (this was on Thursday) and she explained to him she would be dead by then. He flew Courage as an emergency package on a 3rd party flight to Calgary overnight and she was in Greta’s arms by morning.

This is what this ride is about. Making a difference. Offering love, hope and courage in the most trying days. The day the bear was received by Greta she had a brain bleed and had been sleeping lots. However on Saturday she woke up and they had an early 4th birthday for her.

Wednesday Taylor received the heart-breaking text from Greta’s mom…”The most beautiful, fantastic, sweet, precious girl left us early this morning. Greta took her last breath snuggled between her Mama and Dada

The pain we feel is unbearable, and words cannot express how much we already miss her, but we know our girl is no longer suffering. Our hearts are broken and will NEVER be the same. We LOVE you Miss Greta. #gladiatorgreta”. Greta lived her dash (the days between birth and death) with SO much love and so many giggles.

The tears were flowing freely amongst the riders (myself included), volunteers and guests in our dedication circle. These dedications, truly put everything into perspective and motivate us to ride. Live each day as if it is your last – No child, nor family should have to battle this horrible disease… this is why we ride and collect donations.

Today’s 150km route included 1,338m of climbing over 6 hours – there were a couple of hills that tested our resolve, but at the end of the day, we conquered all of them. I am getting much better on the climbs and some of the riders were joking that they weren’t sure who this new rider was… Ha.

As we were coming into our lunch stop in Truro, we were treated to a firefighter escort into town and a fantastic lunch at their station. We were welcomed by the mayor and a lot of people at the station. After the lunch the room exploded with a bunch of grade 6 students from a local school that have been following our journey across the country. There class assignment was to learn about the foundation, read our blogs and chat with the cyclist that inspired them. It was a great interaction with riders and kids… more schools should be involved this way.

At our last rest stop, we were drawn into another firehall, where the team captains had a surprise exercise for the riders. The new riders formed a tight circle in the middle of the firehall, which was wrapped by a ring of volunteers and finally the veteran riders. As this was the last full day of riding with our separate teams, we received a very emotional and inspirational talk from Kelly Hawkins which really enforced the team of people that have come together to cross the country on bicycles and how proud we should be of this accomplishment. Collectively we are part of an exclusive group of approx. 250 riders that have done this ride over the last 10 years for this amazing cause. All of us are extremely proud of what we have accomplished to date and with only one more day of riding, I am sure it will be an extremely emotional day tomorrow as we ride together as one complete team for the final leg.

Today’s ride wrapped up in Lower Sackville and all of the riders (Team #1, Team #2 and The Chase team) all arrived safely. After cleaning up, we went to Tom’s Family Restaurant for an amazing dinner while awaiting the The Chase team who arrived to cheers from the entire restaurant around 9p.

After dinner a few of the riders and volunteers continued to celebrate into the wee hours, but most of the riders were in bed before 11 so they would be fresh for the last day of riding tomorrow… It was definitely great to be reunited with all of the riders that we have only seen a couple of times as we leap-frogged across the country.

Now off to bed… looking forward to tomorrow’s ride!!!

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