We are very fortunate to have Dr. Stacey Marjerrison as one of the riders on our team. Stacey is a Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist at the McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton. After our breakfast this morning, Stacey gave us a high-level overview of the different types of leukemia, including acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) which is the most common of childhood cancers. She then gave us a history of one of her patients, Anya Martinez, who was diagnosed at age 2 with ALL. Anya’s cancer journey included an initial 6 months of intensive chemotherapy, followed by 2 years of in-hospital treatment. After several relapses and a bone marrow transplant, she relapsed again and then underwent a new type of therapy (CAR-T), becoming only the second child in Canada to receive this treatment protocol. Unfortunately, Anya lost her courageous fight exactly one year ago today. Before she passed, Anya composed and recorded a lovely but heart-wrenching song, titled “Never Be Sad for Long” which Stacey played for us. This will be the first of the many reminders for us of our journey’s purpose. Today we will be remembering Anya.
After a team photography session, it was back on the bikes for a 45 km. training ride to the B.C. Children’s Hospital, where we put on our “ambassador” hats and were welcomed by the pediatric oncology staff and an audience of parents and children. One of the families, with their four small children in tow, told us of the cancer journey of their 4-year old son Thar, who is recovering from neuroblastoma, a type of childhood cancer that starts in immature nerve cells in the sympathetic nervous system. Thar has undergone dozens upon dozens of treatments and has spent much of his short life at the BCCH, but he is currently in remission and was running around with his brothers and sisters on the lawn outside the hospital. We named Thar an honorary captain of our NCKR team and presented him with one of our team jerseys, signed by each of the riders and volunteers.
Tonight will be our last evening at the hotel before an early rise tomorrow and the start of our big ride!