When Ride for Cancer became personal for this rider.

Mike Parsons has experienced first-hand both the impact of cancer and the difference that advanced research and treatment can make in a patient’s care journey.

Mike first heard about Ride for Cancer in 2016 through his wife, Fiona. With a passion for cycling, he joined her workplace team for a challenge and to pay it forward.

“It was just an exciting opportunity for me to do something I enjoyed,” Mike says. “And to help support blood cancer patients in Atlantic Canada.”

Little did he know, he would soon benefit directly from the funds raised during this ride.

In January 2017, Mike started having some unusual symptoms. “For instance, I would suddenly get full after eating a relatively small meal.”

Not thinking much of it, Mike’s family encouraged him to get checked out by a doctor.

“A CT scan showed I had an enlarged spleen,” Mike explains.

Throughout the winter and early spring, Mike had a variety of tests done by experts in hematology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

In July, he received the news.

At the age of 45, Mike was diagnosed with a rare form of chronic leukemia called primary myelofibrosis.

“Over time, abnormal stem cells have been causing a build-up of scar tissue in my bone marrow, impairing its ability to produce red and white blood cells and platelets,” explains Mike.

“My spleen has progressively been taking over the production of blood cells, causing it to enlarge.”

“I won’t pretend that I haven’t had tough days or nights,” Mike says. “It’s just the uncertainly associated with a lot of these diagnoses; and every patient individually has a different journey.”

Despite his diagnosis, he was compelled to continue giving back – registering for his second Ride within a month of receiving the news.

“I decided that it would make a lot of sense for me to go out and do this ride again,” says Mike. “Staying active and eating healthy are two things I can control, so training for the Ride for Cancer would benefit me now and in the future.”

“It’s strangely ironic that the year before I helped to raise funds for this ride, and less than six months later, I was benefiting directly from the funds raised to support patients and their families.”

Mike not only crossed the finish line but was a top fundraiser in 2017 – raising $15,555 thanks to the incredible generosity of his family, friends and co-workers.

“Riding last year obviously was a lot more personal for me,” he says. “But I also see a unique opportunity to really help spread the word and raise awareness about these rare forms of blood cancer, and the importance of clinical research.”

“Hopefully I will do some good to benefit people in the long run.”

Mike is back in 2018, captain of his own team – Mikey’s Bikers – which currently has 12 members.

On September 29, he will take on the challenge to cycle Ride for Cancer’s newest route, 75 km along the Rum Runners Trail from Chester Basin to Halifax.