Hundreds of Riders will take part in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal event on October 3, each one with their own unique story and reason to Ride. Our Ride community is full of champions – some that lend their stories to the media to inspire the community, some that lend their faces to bus murals to build awareness, and hundreds of others behind the scenes – sharing their story in unique ways within their own community pockets.

This is the power of this event, and the power of community.

One Rider, who will remain anonymous, is a cancer survivor who is fundraising and sharing his story quietly and intimately, among his circle of friends and family. This Rider is working within his network and raising significant funds that will ensure the QEII’s cancer centre has the best treatment options available, here at home.

Nearly three years ago, he was told that he’d never be well enough to work again, and that he should get his affairs in order. He received a devastating Stage 4, terminal cancer diagnosis. This is the kind of news that no one could ever expect. As a working professional, and someone striving to advance their career – this Riders’ life changed in an instant.

He says, “Thanks to the incredible people involved in my cancer treatment and care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, and the tremendous support of friends and family, I’m still here, and I recently started a great new job.”

His treatment was effective and his life has been forever changed. “I went from looking at things short term and feeling like I didn’t have enough time, to doors in my life being completely open again”.

He also credits the support system around him, saying, “The effect of people supporting each other is the most powerful thing. Even something as simple as reaching out to see how someone is doing, checking in on them and showing you care – it can go a long way. People in my life reached out in the most thoughtful ways – family, friends, even people living in my building.”

This Rider is now living life with a whole new purpose. Sayings like “Don’t sweat the small stuff” or “Take things as they come” really resonate. His outlook on life has been repositioned.

This Rider has already smashed his fundraising goal and will continue to raise funds right up until event day on October 3. His story is a reminder that we never know what people are going through or working on behind the scenes – there are healthcare champions all around us, and we can be grateful for that. He says, “I received phenomenal care at the QEII, and am thankful to be able to do my part in giving back to advance care for others.”

Melanie (Mel) Clarke has lived her life committed to health and wellness. A high-performance athlete from a young age, a university soccer player for Dalhousie, a world traveler, head coach and programmer at a CrossFit gym, Mel never expected to receive a cancer diagnosis shortly after her first son was born.

Mel lost three grandparents to cancer, so was familiar with the toll that this disease can take, but when she first noticed a lump while breast-feeding her first-born, she told herself it must be nothing. After the lump started to change sizes and textures, her intuition told her to make an appointment to see her doctor.

After a mammogram and biopsy, Mel found out that she had a tumour that nearly covered her whole right breast. This was the beginning of her breast cancer journey. Mel was angry and overwhelmed with her diagnosis. Committed to living a healthy lifestyle and taking good care of herself her whole life – this wasn’t supposed to happen.

Mel started her treatment journey and had a mastectomy to remove her right breast and lymph nodes.

Friends and family banded together to support Mel throughout her cancer journey. Her gym started a schedule and took turns making her special anti-inflammatory meals while she was in recovery, she felt the love from her community and doesn’t know how she could have gone through this experience without them.

Mel’s experience has changed her outlook on life, she never takes a moment for granted. She is grateful for every moment she gets to spend with her family. Hear Melanie’s story in full by watching the video below!

On behalf of anyone impacted by cancer, Truro businessman Stu Rath is matching all donations to Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal on September 10, to a total of $100,000.

With support from generous donors like Stu behind us, the Ride community has an ambitious goal to raise $1 million for breast seed brachytherapy – a minimally-invasive breast cancer treatment.

From Junior A hockey, to education and health care – Stu is embedded in his community. A champion in every sense of the word, Stu is challenging Nova Scotians to support better care for breast cancer patients.

It’s a cause close to his heart, having lost his wife, Irene ‘Rene’ Rath to breast cancer in 2006. “We had 42 years together. She supported me in all my business ventures and helped me out when I needed it,” he says. “She is my primary reason for the donation.”

“I know how much the technology for breast cancer treatment has changed – what can be done now, from what was done then,” Stu says.

“I read something recently that one in two people have cancer in their lifetime. Everybody knows someone. It’s worthy of our support.”

The goal to improve cancer care in Nova Scotia remains a constant – as cancer care never stops, not even for a pandemic.

Together, our Ride community will bring breast seed brachytherapy to the QEII. This innovative treatment reduces the routine 30 visits to a single dose of radiation – by implanting a seed the size of a grain of rice in the breast.

This means patients spend less time in hospital and are back home with loved ones, on their way to recovery. COVID-19 has magnified the importance of delivering fast, quality care to the people who need it most.

Despite COVID-19 impacting major events, the Ride team is committed to delivering a safe and memorable experience for riders on October 3 – even if it means things look a little different this year.

Riders will hop on their bikes shortly after sunrise, completing various distances on both the road and trail.

“I think it’s even more important – to do what you can – given what we’re living with right now,” Stu says.

To support a rider or learn more about why we ride, visit yourrideforcancer.ca.

Thank you to Stu Rath and his family for their generosity.

Local gym, Evolve Fitness has joined the fight against cancer and entered a team in this year’s Ride taking place on October 3, 2020. Evolve has recruited the largest team in Ride for Cancer’s history with over 150 Riders registered to their team. Leading this group as Team Captain is Michelle Mackintosh. Michelle works as a physiotherapist for children with cancer and sees the effects of this disease everyday on the job. Her connection to cancer became even stronger in the fall of 2019 when she found a lump in her breast just two days after competing in a marathon. This was the beginning of Michelle’s own cancer journey. Hear Michelle’s full story in the video below!

The Ride community is on a mission this year to raise $1-million net in 2020 and on September 10, every dollar donated will be matched up to $100,000 thanks to the generosity of Stu Rath and his family. This Match Day will be focused on raising funds by inspiring the general public to donate to the event or to support someone they know who is riding, and have their donation doubled, for one day only.

Andrew Herygers is a Halifax-based designer, photographer, writer, artist and Rider in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal. Hosted by the QEII Foundation, this signature event will take place on October 3. Andrew will join over 800 others taking part in the event and ride an impressive 75-kilometres on the trail from Chester, travelling along the Rum Runners Trail to Bayers Lake.

“I’ve been wanting to participate for the past three years however the timing hasn’t worked out until now. Many people in my family have been affected by cancer and Ride for Cancer seems like a great way to support this worthwhile cause while also challenging myself physically,” says Andrew.

Andrew is riding in honour of the many people in his life who have been affected by cancer – but especially his father, Bill Herygers whose life was taken too soon by cancer, just two weeks short of his 52nd birthday.

“I will never understand how he could have leukemia”, says Andrew. “He lived a healthy lifestyle, ate well, didn’t smoke, didn’t drink (except for the occasional beer), and was physically active. He worked extremely hard all his life and excelled at everything he applied his hand and mind to. He was in the prime of his life and looking forward to retiring. He accomplished so much during his short time here on earth, it still amazes me.”

While Father’s Day can be tough for those without a dad, Andrew is taking the opportunity to remember his today – by honouring his dad’s legacy and sharing his story, which has become Andrew’s reason to Ride.

Andrew describes his dad as someone who was quiet and gentle at home, and in his work-life ­­– a jack-of-all-trades and a master of many.

“My dad was born in Klein-Zundert, Netherlands on March 25, 1947,” explains Andrew, “He was the ninth child born in a family of 16. His family immigrated to Canada in 1952 shortly after World War II. He grew up and worked on the family farm in Parkhill (ON) and Middleton (NS).”

His calm demeanor is the thing Andrew misses most about his dad, and something he may choose to channel during Ride day on the trail when the going gets tough.

Andrew is a man of many hobbies – he keeps busy with music (drumming), travel, researching Atlantic Canadian history and of course, cycling but one pastime he misses, is just sitting and chatting with his dad.

“We used to spend a lot of time talking about a wide variety of topics. He was always there for me and very supportive. I miss his advice in my day to day life.”

This Father’s Day, as Andrew gears up for his first ever Ride for Cancer, he is remembering his dad and has a special message to share with our Ride community who are celebrating the dear-old-dads in our lives today, “Appreciate and spend time with your dad. Make sure to take the opportunity to spend quality time for conversation and thank him for all he’s done.”

With 1 in 2 Atlantic Canadians diagnosed with cancer, everyone in our region has a reason to Ride, just like Andrew.  Whether you are celebrating a survivor, showing support for a loved one in treatment or honouring someone who has passed – you can join our fight and help transform cancer care here at home when you register for Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal, register today 

 

Learn more about this year’s reason to Ride.  CTV Morning Live featured Dr. Jean-Philippe Pignol, Head of Radiation Oncology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and inventor of Permanent Breast Seed Brachytherapy. Dr. Pignol explains how this innovative and game changing technology will impact some early stage breast cancer patients in Nova Scotia. 2020 Riders will help bring this world leading technology to the QEII.

Originally published on thechronicleherald.ca.

After years of being extremely athletic and coaching boys’ basketball, Laura Lee Josey found it hard to cope when her cancer treatments left her feeling weak and exhausted.

“Your entire life gets paused. It’s a long, hard process,” says Josey, a mother of three boys who lives in Halifax with her husband.

What kept her going through those dark weeks and months was the love and support of her friends, as they dropped off meals and helped reassure her sons that everything was going to be OK.

“Everybody needs support to get through breast cancer, and the support I had from family and friends was immense,” says Josey. “I’m so lucky.”

Her husband was already a longtime supporter of Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal — a one-day cycling event that raises funds to advance cancer care in Atlantic Canada — and he encouraged Josey to put together a team.

Hosted by the QEII Foundation, Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal has riders choose to cover 25-100km on a trail or between 75km and 160km on a road course spanning beautiful scenery from Mahone Bay to Halifax, all while committing to raise a minimum of $1,000.

Although she was weakened from her cancer treatments and couldn’t even walk at the time, Josey put together a 10-person team — lovingly called “Breast Friends” — and hoped she would be strong enough to ride.

Even though she struggled to climb on and off her bicycle, Josey was also able to cycle the full 50km with her team.

This year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal is set to take place on Oct. 3, 2020 — and Josey’s team has doubled from 10 riders last year to 20 this year. She says this year’s Ride is even more meaningful because they’re fundraising directly for local breast health.

The Ride community has been challenged to raise $1M to elevate local cancer care at the QEII Health Sciences Centre. This year, Ride will bring us one step closer to introducing a new, world-class procedure: a breast seed brachytherapy program.

A tiny radioactive seed — smaller than a grain of rice — is implanted in the breast, delivering radiotherapy exactly where it’s needed. This means that some early-stage breast cancer patients who would ordinarily need to make 30 separate visits to their health centre for radiation will only need one visit that offers improved outcomes.

Josey says this new technology is going to be “life-changing” for the breast cancer patients across Atlantic Canada who will benefit from it, so she’s working hard to help reach the event’s fundraising goal.

“I made it through breast cancer, and now I want to make the process even easier on the next women who will go through it,” she says.

Cancer care never stops, not even for a global pandemic. Dr. Drew Bethune, Medical Director of the Nova Scotia Cancer Care Program, says the dedication of the Ride community to advance cancer care at the QEII and beyond has a “ripple effect” on healthcare workers.

“Because of them, we are inspired to continue our own fight — to deliver the best cancer care for patients and families here at home,” says Dr. Bethune. “Funds raised make a tangible impact locally, and the entire Ride community is making transformational change possible through their involvement in this event.”

It’s a difficult season right now for cancer patients and those who have recently recovered, as they’re among the most vulnerable to contracting COVID-19. Josey is just nine months out from her last chemotherapy treatment and admits she’s worried. To help herself stay calm while she’s isolated at home, she’s remembering what she used to repeat to herself during her chemotherapy treatments.

“I always thought ‘Stay positive, stay safe,’ and now I turn on the TV and that’s exactly what Justin Trudeau is saying about getting through COVID-19,” says Josey. “When I was going through treatment, I wasn’t even allowed to be around anyone with a cold, and now we’re living through a pandemic. I’m trying to stay positive but it’s not always easy.”

One in two Atlantic Canadians will face a cancer diagnosis in their lifetime, and Josey knows firsthand how important it is to have access to world-class cancer care.

“Someone you know is probably either going through breast cancer or has a loved one going through breast cancer,” says Josey. “As a community, we need to stand strong and provide any support we can.”

This year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal is set to take place on Oct. 3, 2020. To register for the event or make a donation, please visit YourRideforCancer.ca.