We were your average family, both parents with successful careers and two young children enjoying life. All that changed and our world was turned upside down the Christmas of 2001 when our eldest daughter, Carly, who was 11 years of age at the time, was diagnosed with B-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. It was the most difficult time of our lives. Immediately we were inundated with hospital visits, medical information overload, decision-making and anxiety. We now had to face a new normal in our lives.
The following 8 months involved daily trips to the Hospital for Sick Children for aggressive chemotherapy treatment, lengthy hospital stays due to complications, and many ups and downs, tears and fears. However, with the support of family and friends, we remained optimistic. Carly wrote a limerick in Grade 6 assignment – “A cure is all I need, I know I will succeed, it will be rough and some days tough, but in the end I will be freed.” We also remember her at a school assembly, up on the stage, while singing, “We are the Champions” with her fellow classmates. She was so sick that night, but somehow mustered up the energy to go. She was such a small, sickly looking child with a bucket hat on her wee head. We hung on to those words in that limerick and song until we heard those long awaited words “your child is cancer free”.
We resumed a normal life for a few years, but along with the cure came other complications. At age 16, Carly had a hip replacement at Mount Sinai to repair damage incurred during her cancer treatment. She’ll likely need a few more throughout her lifetime. However, today, we feel very blessed. We have been able to watch Carly grow and become a beautiful young woman expecting her first child in April!
Not all mothers have been as blessed as myself. Through my affiliation with the Coast to Coast Against Childhood Cancer Foundation, I have been introduced to families who have lost a child to cancer and my heart aches. This is why I ride – so that no parent ever has to hear those words “Your child has cancer”.
I began riding with Tour for Kids in 2005 and have completed twelve consecutive annual rides with the Tour. During these rides, I was introduced to one of the most inspiring individuals I’ve ever met, the father of a young boy named Alex who lost his life to childhood cancer in 2009. I was welcomed and joined his family and friends as Team Axle.
This being my retirement year, I thought it was time to go a little further – step out of my box – and have decided to take on the challenge of the Coast to Coast Sears National Kids Cancer Ride now in it’s 10th year. I am truly honoured to be joined by the other riders and be part of the 2017 SNKCR family committed to raising money and awareness for childhood cancer and supporting the visions of a world beyond kids cancer.
In Canada, 1700 children and youths from birth to 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer each year. Although monumental gains in treatment and care have been made, childhood cancer is still the leading disease-related cause of death in Canadian children. While over 75% of children survive cancer, more than 50% of those survivors later face side effects from their disease and treatment, including neurocognitive impairments, sterility and secondary cancers. Childhood cancer has a devastating and lasting effect on parents, siblings, extended family, friends and communities everywhere.
My commitment to ride in the 2017 SNKCR requires me to fundraise $15,000. Your support in helping me achieve my fundraising goal is appreciated.