Pictured: Lauren Currie with her late father. Lauren will cycle 75 km in the upcoming BMO Ride for Cancer 2023, in memory of her father, who passed away from cancer.

Amidst a bustling schedule, Lauren Currie, hailing from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, is gearing up for a special milestone – her first year cycling in BMO Ride for Cancer. Juggling her responsibilities as a mother of two, Lauren finds herself presently on maternity leave, cherishing the company of her eight-month-old daughter, the latest joyous addition to her family. She’s balancing her busy days with training, making time to keep active in anticipation for BMO Ride event day, quickly approaching on September 23, 2023.

“I’ve been cycling for 15 years,” explains Lauren. “But this is the first year I’ve been able to officially participate in BMO Ride for Cancer. And it’s so important to me.”

Like many individuals, BMO Ride holds a special place in Lauren’s heart because of how cancer has deeply impacted her family.

A personal impact

Pictured: Lauren (left), with her family.

Back in 2015, Lauren’s dad passed away from a rare form of cancer at the age of 62, an experience that devastated her entire family.

“His cancer had a very low risk of metastasis; we thought surgery and radiation would be enough. Sadly, we learned that just less than two years later, he had stage 4 cancer that spread to his bones. He died that January,” says Lauren.

“My father was a kind soul with a great sense of humour and an infectious laugh; he loved the blues, sports, and above all, his family – my mom, my sister, and I,” Lauren shares.

“He did not get to walk his daughter down the aisle, did not get to retire, and did not get to meet his grandchildren.”

When Lauren and her family underwent the horrible experience of losing a treasured person to such a senseless disease, she was overcome with sadness when she realized it was far from unique.

“Too many individuals and families have experienced their loved ones suffering and ultimately passing away.”

Moved by facing the devastating effects that cancer has on a family, Lauren hopes to make a difference in her home community through her participation in BMO Ride for Cancer, raising funds for life-saving cancer care – here at home.

Lauren says that during her dad’s cancer journey, once his cancer had spread, his local hospital offered specialized genetic testing as a part of a research study in an attempt find him a personalized treatment option.

“It was so important to my father to be able to participate in this research, as he saw it as a way of helping others in the future”, Lauren explains.

Unfortunately, there were found to be no additional treatment options available to Lauren’s father. But now, with Lauren participating in BMO Ride and fundraising in his honour, “my dad is able to keep helping people,” she says. “Something he would be proud to be able to do.”

This year’s BMO Ride for Cancer is raising funds for Atlantic Canada’s first CAR-T therapy lab, dedicated to genetically modifying blood cancer patient’s own immune cells to fight their cancer with unparalleled personalization and accuracy – offering a final lifeline and potential cure for eligible patients.

“The fundraising efforts of this year’s BMO Ride will help unlock access to this immunotherapy treatment to help Atlantic Canadians with certain types of blood cancers,” Lauren says.

“This will help people be able to attend their children’s weddings, retire, and spend time with their grandchildren.”

A professional connection

Lauren has even deeper insight into the cancer journey through her profession. After her maternity leave, she’ll be stepping back into her role as a genetic counsellor.

A genetic counsellor is an allied healthcare professional that works with individuals and families that either have a known genetic condition or may be at risk of having a genetic condition in themselves or their family.

“I specialize in hereditary cancer genetics, which means I work with individuals and families that may have a change in their genes that predisposes them to developing certain types of cancer over their lifetime,” explains Lauren.

Starting her career at the IWK Health Centre and now working for a genetic testing company, Lauren has worked with hundreds of Nova Scotian families who have faced cancer. She explains it’s just one more reason that she’s motivated to give back to cancer care in her community.

“Working in my field, I know a lot more families that have experienced cancer than the average person,” she explains. “It inspires me to help, in any way than I can.”

Gearing up

As an avid hobby cyclist, Lauren has been enjoying prepping for BMO Ride throughout Nova Scotia’s beautiful trails.

On BMO Ride event day, Lauren will join 1,300+ other riders in an epic journey across Nova Scotia’s roads and trails – all with the common goal to transform cancer care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

It’s Lauren’s first BMO Ride for Cancer, so she’s really looking forward to embracing the full experience – such as cycling alongside an incredible community of fellow fundraisers, the exhilarating cheers of the crowd, and the amazing hype of the finish line.

“I feel really excited to be a part of this event ever since I joined – and that excitement has just persisted,” she says.

Along with her physical training, Lauren has gone all-in on fundraising, too. So far, she has surpassed her fundraising goal, with $1,793 raised to date.

“Family and friends really stepped up to chip in,” says Lauren. “My dad was from a big family, and we had so many connections that wanted to support me in his memory, too. It really speaks to the effect my dad had on people’s personal lives.”

Lauren expresses that she is touched by this outpouring of support for her upcoming BMO Ride. That, combined with her personal and professional experiences with cancer will all serve as motivation for her as she pushes herself to cycle 75 km on event day.

“Cycling is something I can physically do – I can get on a bike and ride at a harder distance than usual and challenge myself. “When I was doing something physically challenging when my dad was sick, this is something I thought about a lot,” Lauren says.

“I would breathe through it and do it for my dad, because he couldn’t. It’s something that keeps me going. I will do it for him.”

Fund the fight. Support Lauren or another BMO Rider and help bring life-saving cancer care to Atlantic Canadians.