It’s been a year since Kayte Turney’s world was turned upside down.

In the spring of 2018, Kayte was approached by a member of the community, encouraging her to get involved with Ride for Cancer. Hosted in partnership by the QEII Foundation and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada, Ride for Cancer is Atlantic Canada’s largest cycling fundraising event that is advancing cancer care here at home.

With no connection to cancer in her immediate circle of friends and family, Kayte reflected on her personal mantra: The more you have, the more you give. Kayte has always subscribed to a community-focused mentality, one that believes everyone should play their part in making the world a better place. Kayte signed up as a Team Captain for her corporate team at EY Halifax.

Around the same time, Kayte also found out that she was pregnant for the first time. She was in a great place with her career, feeling healthy and happy — everything was coming together just right. Summer was just around the corner, and Kayte had big plans to go on training rides with her EY team, organize fundraisers and inspire her whole office to rally together around Ride for Cancer.

Fast forward to August, and Kayte started to feel as though something was off, she listened to her body and went to get checked out. Through a series of tests and assessments at the QEII and IWK health centres, her pregnancy was deemed as not viable.

Through this devastating news, Kayte also found out that she had a molar pregnancy, where abnormal cells were created inside the womb. This put her at risk of developing cancer. Prior to learning this, Kayte had never heard of a molar pregnancy.

“I think it’s important that we talk about these experiences in women’s health,” says Kayte. “The more we connect on these issues, the stronger our community becomes. No one needs to feel alone.”

With the 2018 Ride for Cancer event just around the corner, Kayte found her reason to ride hitting closer to home than she could have ever imagined. Not only did Kayte’s vision of becoming a new mom start to fade away, she was now awaiting test results to hear whether or not she would be diagnosed with brain, lung or liver cancer as per the risks associated with her molar pregnancy.

Never one to slow down when things get tough, Kayte held her head high and led her team through the 25-kilometre trail route on Ride day. It was during her ride that it all really hit her. Things had come full circle and she was reminded of why she got involved in the first place — to help people — because we all have to play our part and we never know when we might need support ourselves.

In January of 2019, Kayte was given the all-clear — against the odds, she is cancer-free. This year, Kayte has stepped up once again to face the fight with her EY team and the Ride community.

“As a team captain in my office, I get to be a teacher. I get to inspire my colleagues and my community to give back and support this incredible cause that affects us all. It’s empowering and I love sharing that feeling with others,” says Kayte.

Ride for Cancer takes place on Sept. 28, 2019. This year, funds raised through Ride for Cancer will help stop cancer in its tracks for women like Kayte by purchasing state-of-the-art colposcopy equipment. This equipment is critical in diagnosing and treating cervical cancer and treating precancerous cell changes before they develop into cancer.

This year, the Ride community will also support Atlantic Canada’s first surgical robotics system that will treat a range of cancers, fund research to discover new treatments and cures for blood cancer and fuel individualized support programs for cancer patients and their families.

On Sept. 12, a little more than two weeks before the big event, the Ride for Cancer community will take over the airwaves on C100 FM to share inspiring stories from riders like Kayte who are facing the fight against cancer alongside a community of more than 800 riders and thousands of supporters.

A donation from a rider who is committed to establishing best-in-class care, right here at home, has made a game-changing commitment to match every donation on Sept. 12 up to $50,000. This generous donor says, “Too many friends have been affected by this disease and we just need to beat it.” She is leading the pack with her gift that will inspire a community to come together and make a record-breaking impact for this year’s event.

Tune in to C100 FM on Sept. 12 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. to join this dedicated community on a day that’s sure to make a big impact.

With more than 800 riders for the 2019 Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal, everyone has a reason to ride. Whether affected by cancer, facing a physical challenge or participating for the first time, these riders are gearing up for the big day. For riders like Craig Bethune, it’s a time to celebrate.

Craig started having pain in his right hip about seven years ago. Being active since childhood, Craig did his best to work through the pain and kept playing tennis, golfing and cycling, including completing Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal twice – 130 km in 2016 and 100 km in 2017.

When Craig’s pain started to get worse, he had trouble sleeping and had to cut back on the activities he enjoyed. That’s when he knew it was time to seek medical help.

Craig’s family physician referred him to Dr. Michael Dunbar, QEII orthopaedic surgeon and QEII Foundation Endowed Chair in Arthroplasty Outcomes.

“After an X-ray and MRI, Dr. Dunbar told me I had pretty severe osteoarthritis in my hip,” says Craig. “He told me it would progressively get worse – and he was right.”

Over the course of the next couple of years, Craig’s pain increased and he tried several different medications. These medications only helped for a while.

Finally, at 52 years old, Craig followed Dr. Dunbar’s recommendation and opted for total hip replacement surgery, which took place on January 30, 2018.

Making the decision to have surgery done under a spinal anesthetic rather than general anesthetic, Craig was walking the halls of the QEII with a walker just hours later. The next day, he was able to walk using only crutches. After passing this milestone, Craig was able to go home after two nights in the hospital.

“I had a wonderful experience at the QEII,” says Craig. “Everyone involved in my care was top-notch and treated me like family.”

Following Dr. Dunbar’s advice, Craig continued his recovery with lots of walking. He started with only 20 steps the first day and increased his distance until he was walking two or three kilometres a day in the first six weeks.

Today, Craig feels very fortunate to have had a full recovery. No longer walking with a limp or using a cane, a titanium implant and a six-inch scar are the only evidence of his surgery.

To celebrate his recovery and the end of his hip surgery journey, Craig is training for the 130 km route at the fifth annual Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal.

Photo caption: Craig Bethune (right) completed 100km, along with friend Jamie Davison (left) in the 2017 Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal. Following hip surgery at the QEII in 2018, Craig is training for 130km at the 2019 Ride.

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

Mike first heard about Ride for Cancer in 2016 through his wife, Fiona. Having recently lost two family members to cancer and with a passion for cycling, he joined her workplace team for a fun challenge and to contribute toward the fight against cancer.

Little did he know, he would soon benefit directly from the funds raised during this ride. In July 2017 at the age of 45, Mike was diagnosed with primary myelofibrosis, a rare form of chronic leukemia that impairs the bone marrow’s ability to produce healthy blood cells.

Almost two years later, Mike doesn’t let his cancer diagnosis hold him back.

In the Ride for Cancer’s 2019 marketing campaign, he proudly wears the word “FIGHTER” written across his face.

“The biggest change I’ve made since diagnosis is not taking things for granted, and doing my best to live in the present,” Mike said. “I’ve also made deliberate changes in both my personal and professional life to focus on my priorities – like spending more time with my family and friends, and taking care of my physical and mental health.”

For both Mike and Fiona, staying active has become incredibly important. “Ride for Cancer has been a big part of that,” Mike explains. “I’ve always loved to bike since I was a kid, and our team name “Mikey’s Bikers”, is actually named after a little bike I had when I was about four years old,” Mike laughs. “Since my diagnosis, the Ride has provided a great opportunity to focus on doing something I really enjoy while also helping support cancer patients and their families,” he says.

Mike has not let his cancer diagnosis prevent him from living the best life he can. “For Christmas last year, I decided to treat myself to an indoor bike trainer for the first time. I just thought, there’s no time like the present” he says. “Since late December, I’ve ridden about 1000 km in my basement while the local trails are covered in snow.”

Mike also highlights the importance of keeping stress under control following a cancer diagnosis. “Getting diagnosed with a cancer, as I’ve learned, is also a mental game. You can choose to obsess over searching the internet and worrying about the future, or focus on the things over which you have control like diet and exercise,” he says.

When Mike was first diagnosed, he wanted to learn everything he could possibly know about his blood cancer. As a scientist, he spent time poring-over the medical literature and talking to other patients and experts in the hematology community. “But at one point or another, I just had to shelve it,” he says.

“I said to myself, okay, so that’s what this is all about. I understand more about my own prognosis, what the treatments are, and what I can and can’t control. Since that time, especially over the last year, I’ve really tried not think about all that stuff. I very deliberately don’t want to dwell there more than I need to.”

Mike says he doesn’t see himself as “the guy with cancer.”

“I also don’t want others to see me that way,” Mike explains. “I’ve got a lot more going on than just cancer. It’s important for me to keep living the best life I can, despite this diagnosis. That’s been a big part for me – I try not to stress about the little things. I just don’t have time for that in my life these days.”

Mike’s cancer diagnosis, and his experience with the Ride for Cancer, has changed his own perspective on the importance of taking care of one’s physical and mental health.

“It comes back to just not taking things for granted. It sounds cliché, but none of us know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Mike says. “Each day, I do my best to focus on the present and try not to worry about what might happen in 5, 10, or 20 years. Thanks to support from fundraising events like the Ride for Cancer, I know that there is all sorts of groundbreaking cancer research underway and remain cautiously optimistic that I will benefit from new treatments and possibly cures in the future,” he says.

Ride for Cancer won’t be the only bike adventure Mike takes this year. In making sure he is prioritizing fun and active living, Mike is about to embark on a 100-mile bike ride in early May through the desert in Canyonlands National Park in Utah with family and friends­—a trip that’s been on his to-do list for at least a couple of decades.

Team Mikey’s Bikers currently has 13 riders and a $25,000 fundraising goal for 2019. They’ll be riding the 75 km route along the Rum Runners Trail from Chester to Halifax.