National Kids Cancer Ride

NKCR – Newcastle to Belleville and Maskinonge to Louis Garneau – Teamwork and Hospital Visits

One of the things I’ve learned on this ride is that it takes a lot of teamwork to make it happen. As riders we all have to work as a team, and we have our individual roles to play, much as any team does. Some pull, some lead and direct, and some support. Team Bacon a Difference is working well together; we are a tight team on the road,and a part of the greater team that is Team 1. Beyond the team of riders, there is another larger team which supports us along the way. We couldn’t do this ride without the team of volunteers that are with us every pedalstroke (and every shuttle along the way). We are a team of riders, RV drivers, cooks, medical staff, and crew who bond together into a wheel family as we travel acoss the country.

And I appreciate the support. Yesterday was a day that started tough and gradually got better before taking a rather significant turn for the worse. As we rode out from Newcastle, I could tell my mind wasn’t really in the game, and it was a bit of a struggle to keep going over rough roads, and rolling terrain for the first part of the trip. And I wasn’t alone, the funk seemed to permeate the team and we rode relatively slowly, falling a bit behind schedule. After lunch, a reduced group of riders had to put the hammer down to make up for lost time. We averaged over 30kph for the segment, and it was fun but tough. The hard ride woke me up and we finished strong, but in the evening things went a bit sideways.

After a good dinner and presentation at the Sears Distribution Centre in Bellville, we loaded up the truck and headed out on our long commute to Montreal-Repentigny. I was tired and slept in the upper bunk of the RV for the first section. When we arrived at the rest stop, I came down from the bunk and had a major cramp in my leg, follwed by going unconcious (fainting) for about 15-30 seconds. I was a little sick after that and had to be taken by ambulance to the hospital, as I was dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion. Several hours and 2 litres of IV fluids later I was back on my way to meet up with the group at our overnight stop. Linda (our nurse) and Danny (our mechanic) were with me to get me through the evening. Today is a day off the bike. I made that decision on my own, although I suspect it would have been made for me if I had not. It’s good to have a rest day, but tough when the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day.

Tomorrow will be another day, and I will be back on the road for our final four days of riding through the eastern provinces. The rest today will enable me to make the journey to the end with the team.

Yesterday (Newcastle to Bellville), we rode for Katie, a typical 15 year old girl in her first year of high school. In the spring of 2010 she began to complain of knee pain. It came and went and since she had just finished basketball and volleyball season didn’t think much of it. Finally she went to see a doctor who sent her for an X-ray and MRI thinking it maybe cartilage damage. The initial X-ray showed something suspicious and another one was ordered indicating something was seriously wrong and she was sent to Mount Sinai Hospital to a special Sarcoma unit. On June 7, 2010 she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – the same cancer as Terry fox. After 4 months of treatment it was clear conventional chemo was not working and she was sent to Sick Kids. In January 2011 Katie and her family were told there was nothing more they could do for her, yet she lived everyday to its fullest and even had an early sweet 16 birthday party. On February 10, 2011 just 8 months after her diagnoses and 6 weeks before her 16th birthday Katie passed away at Sick Kids surrounded by family and friends.

Today we ride for Ollie, a bright, fun loving, adorable little boy, who’s story starts before he was even born. Imagine finding out your baby was battling cancer before he even took his first breath. Suspected of having a tumor on his liver while still inside his mother, Ollie and his parents have been fighting for his life since day one. A routine ultrasound during his mom’s second trimester of pregnancy revealed a mass on baby Ollie’s liver. While doctors initially suspected it might be a twisted bowel, further examination showed the mass was growing. On June 8, 2015, after his mom safely delivered her beautiful baby boy, Ollie was immediately whisked away for x-rays, which confirmed the mass on his tiny liver was a malignant tumor – the size of a soda can. After being transferred to CHEO, Ollie received a diagnosis of hepatoblastoma, a form of liver cancer needing immediate treatment. Surgically removing the tumour would be the easiest treatment, but since it was so close to one of Ollie’s major arteries, it could have disastrous consequences. Chemotherapy would be necessary to shrink the tumour so that it could eventually be removed through surgery. To add another complication, with Ollie being a newborn, his little body could only handle so much chemo. The doctors treating Ollie needed to delicately balance his chemo treatment to prevent too much trauma from occurring to his body, which could put him at risk of lifelong hearing loss and kidney problems. Because Ollie’s condition was so rare, CHEO turned to the world for help. With so few babies born with hepatoblastoma, doctors at CHEO consulted medical experts in Germany, Japan, the United States and several hospitals across Canada to help develop Ollie’s customized treatment plan.
But for Ollie, the outcome has been bright. After several rounds of chemo, his care team was able to shrink his tumour enough to be removed. Today, Ollie only visits CHEO for regular appointments, rather than living there.

Sure there are hard days, but along the way, our wheel family still manages to have a lot of fun. Next up is Edmonston to Woodstock, and some more climbing! Until tomorrow, dear followers, here are some pictures from the last couple of days.


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