Dr. Howard Conter and Karen Conter are thrilled to be participating in the 2021 Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal to bring new, cancer-fighting genetic sequencing technology to the QEII Health Sciences Centre. 

A Halifax couple has been raising funds and preparing to ride in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal – side by side for each pedal of the way.

Howard Conter is a family physician in Halifax, and his wife, Karen Conter, is now retired from her work in research. In their free time, this philanthropic power couple usually participates in four to five major fundraisers a year.

“Everything we do in fundraising and for the community, we always do together,” Howard smiles.

“Philanthropy is something we got from looking at our own parents. You just realize how lucky you are to have healthy kids and grandkids and realize you have to give back.”

Howard and Karen are thrilled to be participating in this year’s Ride for Cancer, a cause that Howard first became involved in from his connections with the QEII Foundation as a board member and emcee at previous fundraising events.

“Every year, Ride for Cancer has been getting bigger and bigger,” Howard says. “We’ve always donated, but last year, I wanted to get even more involved, so I cycled 50km in the event.”

“It’s fun to be a part of such an incredible cause – and it’s a little bit more challenging than just writing a cheque.”

This year, Howard’s back for another 50km ride along with Karen, who attended last year’s event for support. “I saw the energy and excitement of everyone riding, and I got a little jealous,” Karen laughs. “So, this year I’m going to ride 50km along with Howard and our team.”

“It’s so fun to do, especially with friends and loved ones,” says Howard. “There’s so much excitement, and at the end of the day, there’s lots of congratulations. It’s such an incredible day of camaraderie.”

So far, Howard and Karen’s team, Team Robotics, has raised an astounding $57,210 for this year’s Ride for Cancer, which will help bring new cancer-fighting genetic sequencing technology to the QEII Health Sciences Centre.

“With [genetic sequencing], you have specific treatments for specific cancers,” Howard explains. “For each individual, you’ll be able to find the gene and the molecular breakdown of that particular cancer and design almost a boutique treatment for that cancer.”

This targeted technology means that healthcare teams will be able to match treatments to a specific type of cancer as opposed to a group of cancers. “It’s a tremendous opportunity,” Howard says.

For Howard and Karen, advancing technology and cancer treatments at the QEII is also essential to continue building a centre of excellence in health care: “It’s a necessary cause for us. We both understand the importance that the better technology we have at the QEII, the better minds we’re going to bring here. It continues to build on itself.”

“We have to support our local hospitals,” Karen says. “We can help people recover from illnesses so that they can go on to have productive lives with their families.”

Just like our 1,300 other Ride for Cancer 2021 participants, the thousands of event supporters, and countless others in our communities, Howard and Karen have also felt the impact of cancer, and are proud to be facing the fight in this year’s Ride on October 2, 2021.

“My father passed away from pancreatic cancer, and Karen’s father did too,” Howard says. The Conter family has also lost other friends and relatives to the devastating disease.

“There’s no family in the world that hasn’t understood what cancer is. And even more importantly, more people are now surviving and fighting back against cancer. Supporting this cause as a community – it’s a no-brainer.”

Help fund the fight against cancer by donating today at YourRideforCancer.ca. You can also support Howard, Karen, and Team Robotics by clicking here >>

 


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

So far, Kathy MacPherson has helped her team raise $3,000 for their 2021 Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal by selling homemade baked goods. Contributed.

Kathy MacPherson is combining her talent for baking with her love of cycling to support Atlantic Canadians facing the fight against cancer.

This year, Kathy is riding 75 km with Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal, an event she joined in 2018 to maintain her cycling hobby – and to give back to her community.

“When I turned 50, I started cycling to work from Cole Harbour to the IWK as a nurse to keep up on my health and fitness,” Kathy explains. “I did it for years, then work got busier so I started driving again. When I retired, I saw Ride for Cancer as a great opportunity to get back into cycling.”

Like countless others in our community, Kathy and her family have been touched by cancer. She lost her father, some other family members, and a few dear friends to the disease, and felt moved to do something for those facing the fight.

“I felt drawn in some way to the QEII Foundation and to Ride for Cancer. I wanted to do something here, something now,” says Kathy.

When Kathy retired, she also took the opportunity to enroll in a professional baking course to learn how to create delicious pastries and breads.

“It really elevated my use of flavors and taught me how to bake in large quantities,” says Kathy.

With her newly honed skills, Kathy thought that baking would be the perfect way to fundraise for her Ride.

“I have a booth at the Heritage Farm in Cole Harbour on Wednesday afternoons,” Kathy says. “I have also been doing online fundraisers through social media, where people can comment and buy my baking. It’s been really successful – people keep asking me to let them know the next time I’m selling some!”

Kathy’s assortment of lemon-infused cinnamon rolls, focaccia breads, cookies, scones and more have helped her team raise nearly $3,000 and counting for this year’s Ride.

rum raisin challah bread

Kathy’s rum raisin challah bread

Even though Kathy’s days have been bustling amidst baking and her part-time return to nursing on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, she’s still finding time to cycle to prepare for her Ride – with a little help from family.

“This year, I’m looking forward to riding with my son, Aaron, and granddaughter, Brooklyn,” Kathy reveals. “In some of my earlier Rides, I got a bit lonely towards the last few kilometers. Having them along in this year’s Ride for Cancer will be really motivational. It’s a great thing to do with the family.”

“There’s always so much energy during Ride,” Kathy smiles. “People are so supportive and happy. It makes such a difference to know that we’re really making advancements in cancer treatment, extending people’s lives and their quality of life.”

Thanks to the support of her family and the palpable energy and excitement in our community surrounding Ride day, Kathy feels well prepared to tackle whatever this year’s event throws her way. Kathy also has her own motivations that she holds close to her heart while she’s riding along Nova Scotia’s winding trails.

“During one of my solo Rides, the final 20 km were uncomfortable and a bit painful,” Kathy shares. “But then I thought of my friend with cancer and the pain he suffered through during his many radiation treatments. That kept me going too.”

While Ride for Cancer has hit capacity for in-person registrations to safely execute the event experience for 2021, you can support Kathy, Aaron, and Brooklyn’s team and help fund the fight against cancer by clicking here!


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

A self-professed gym rat and fitness junkie, Catherine Campbell, of Halifax, NS, was initially discouraged when her gym shut down in the early pandemic. She was missing a major source of community and friendship, and had to find a new way to challenge herself.

“When I joined Ride for Cancer, I went all in. It became my focus,” she says.

Both a member of the event’s executive cabinet and a three-time rider, Catherine will join more than a thousand riders in the fight against cancer again this year.

Whether on the road or inside on a trainer, she pedals hundreds of kilometers every month in training.

And like many who will be up before the sun to ride on October 3, Catherine shows up for deeply personal reasons.

“I lost my best friend to cancer at the age of 30. Ever since then, cancer has been a part of my vocabulary,” she says.

“It was soul crushing,” Catherine says. “Honestly, she is as close as I’ve ever come to a soulmate. She was just my person.”

2020 was a big year in many ways – but on a personal level, Catherine celebrated her 50th birthday and reached the 20 year mark of living without her best friend.

A Ride ambassador, you may see Catherine appear in advertisements across the city leading up to event day. The word “fearless” is painted across her face. That word really resonated with her.

“Calculated risk is very much a part of living a full life,” she says.

Catherine is leading her own team this year, alongside her co-captain and friend, Colin, who she calls “Fast.”

“Our friendship really blossomed through Ride for Cancer,” she says. “We met through other cyclists in our network and realized we had both participated the year before.”

And alongside the pair, both Colin’s son and 80-year-old father will be riding together this year – three generations showing up as one team.

“There’s nothing like being part of a community focused on a singular goal – for a cause that will affect all of our lives at some point,” Catherine says, who in addition to her best friend, has lost grandparents to cancer, and witnessed two aunts survive it.

“We get to be part of the solution, bringing the research and technology to this region,” she says.

This year, funds raised through Ride will purchase genetic sequencing technology – advanced technology that evaluates the genetic makeup of an individual’s cancer tissue. These results guide important decisions surrounding care, and can even spare someone from unnecessary treatments. This matters, especially for people facing late-stage cancers.

“I’m so proud of Nova Scotia from a medical perspective and a health perspective,” Catherine says. “We’re a hub for all this knowledge and research – and anything we can do to bring those brilliant minds here and keep moving forward – how can you say no?”


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

Melissa Young and Michelle Connors are sisters and Riders in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal. The two share a lot in common – their love of the outdoors, passion for travel and dedication to family. Although sisters can sometimes grow apart over the years with busy lifestyles and schedules, family is like the North Star – always bringing you home, no matter how that changes over time.

“We’re both really busy – I go camping on the weekends and Michelle is busy with her family so we live fairly separate lives day-to-day. Last year, training for this event gave us something to do together and a common goal to work towards,” says Melissa.

“It was nice to go for a ride then come back and have a barbecue and a glass of wine together,” added Michelle.

This will be Melissa’s fifth year riding on the QEII Foundation’s host organization team. Melissa has worked at the QEII Foundation for over two decades and her passion for philanthropy has always shined bright in her Ride fundraising efforts. Melissa has been on a personal health and fitness journey for several years, so taking part in Ride was an easy fit into her active lifestyle. “When I started with Ride in 2016, I was 39, on the cusp of turning 40. That was my big motivation, to try to get myself in better shape as I moved into my forties,” says Melissa.

In 2020, Michelle joined because that’s what sisters do. Your main shtick as a sister is support and that’s exactly why Michelle got involved. “I guess I didn’t really decide to join,” shares Michelle. “I was just saying I had a bicycle and my sister said, well, congratulations, I just signed you up and you’re riding with me.” Michelle and Melissa both laugh in the way only sisters do.

Not only were Melissa and Michelle eager to hop in the saddle as a way to get fit and spend time together, but the cause was also an inspiration.

“It was all about getting healthy and giving back to a cause that really gave us the gift of time,” says Melissa. “I have always ridden for our mom. She was stage four breast cancer and metastatic, and now we are about to celebrate her twelve years as a cancer survivor at the end of May. It feels like a miracle that she’s still here with us today.”

When Michelle and Melissa’s mom, Flo, was diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, they started to mentally prepare themselves – they didn’t know how much time they had left with her. Now twelve years later, the sisters are grateful for their mom’s care team at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and eager to give back so that other families can receive the same world-class care.

“I’ve had my mother with me for 12 years beyond what we imagined possible because of the team at the QEII. She had a fantastic oncologist, whom she still sees to this day, amazing nurses – nothing but the greatest care. I want to give back because there could be other families in the same situation as ours,” says Melissa. “Whatever we can do to make sure we get the best equipment, technology and care here at home, I think that’s what we need to do.”

Funds raised this year will bring the QEII one step closer to introducing new state-of-the-art genetic sequencing technology to analyze the genes of thousands of tumour samples each year. Better outcomes, fewer side effects, access to new therapies or clinical trials are all benefits this technology will bring to cancer patients, here at home. It can even spare patients from unnecessary treatments. This technology will be a game-changer for those patients facing late-stage cancers.

As a Ride veteran, Melissa has incredible expertise in fundraising and consistently knocks her goal out-of-the-park by using creative fundraising strategies to engage her network.

“Some might find it daunting to raise the $1,000 minimum, but it’s all about finding innovative ways to raise the funds. I got creative last summer with my friends at the campground and did a 100 Square Sale where people could buy a square for $20 and when all squares were sold, and funds were collected, I drew for the winning number using a random number generator. The person who purchased the square with the winning number won 50 per cent of the earnings and I was able to hit my goal,” explains Melissa. Learn more about this fundraising strategy and how to do it yourself here.

With over 1,300 Riders registered for this year’s event, the buzz is building and many community members are jumping in to support the cause. Riders, families, and businesses big and small are working together to raise funds to bring new genetic sequencing technology home to the QEII. Twig & Twine Floristry is one small, local business that is supporting the cause this Mother’s Day by selling gorgeous Mother’s Day bouquets, with $1.00 from each order coming back to support a Rider in the event. An incredible $164 was raised and the beautiful bouquets were a sell-out – a testament to the jaw-dropping florals and strong community support for the cause.

As Mother’s Day approaches, many of us think about how grateful we are for our moms and mother figures in our lives. Melissa and Michelle are especially filled with gratitude during this time as they celebrate Mother’s Day and their mom’s twelve years as a survivor. The sisters feel lucky to be able to participate in this event and feel that it’s a win-win. Getting outside in nature, having the benefits of physical activity, spending time together, and raising funds for a cause close to their hearts.

 


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

The Feenstras are an adventurous family. They spend weekends soaking up the sun – biking, hiking, and in the warmer months, camping off the grid – piling the essentials into a canoe and paddling to a remote island to sleep under the stars.

“When I first met Andrew, I was riding a bike from Canadian Tire. That did not go over very well,” his partner, Tracey, jokes.

As owner of Cyclesmith, bikes are sort of in Andrew’s DNA – and a love for cycling has extended to Tracey and their two kids, Adyson, 10, and Carter, 4.

When they caught wind of Ride for Cancer a few years back, it was a no-brainer to get involved. This year will be Adyson’s second ride – a trooper, among the youngest Riders on the trail.

“The local element is super important,” Andrew says, “funds raised stay here in Atlantic Canada for Atlantic Canadians.”

“And I think the equipment they’re purchasing is amazing,” Tracey adds, “for early diagnosis and less invasive treatments,” she says. “My thought is for our kids. It’ll be here if we need it, but for them – you know, whether they face breast or cervical or prostate cancer in the future.”

This year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal will fund genetic sequencing technology for the QEII Health Sciences Centre. DNA sequencers analyze genes to assess what treatments will work for an individual and help to create personalized care plans.

The technology can even spare patients from unnecessary treatments – a life-changing impact – especially for late-stage cancers.

Both Tracey and Andrew have been touched by cancer, most recently having lost Andrew’s mom in May 2020. This year, they will honour her as a family on the trail, along with Tracey’s dad, who passed away when she was just twenty five.

“I was living away in Florida at the time. He went into the hospital not knowing what was wrong. He had thought a gallstone was causing him so much stomach pain and sickness,” she recalls.

Tracey traveled home after he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. The cancer spread to his liver, and fourteen months later, he passed away.

“He was fifty three years old. Losing him was really difficult,” Tracey says, “my dad and I were very close.”

Tracey’s mom is a survivor of the same type of cancer – she had surgery to remove it a month before Adyson was born. Among other cancer survivors in the family are Andrew’s two sisters – both having faced breast cancer.

The prevalence of cancer in Atlantic Canadians – with one in two facing a diagnosis in their life time – is more than a stat for the Feenstras, its lived experience and part of their story. It’s why they ride.

And when it comes to event day experience, Andrew spoke accolades.

“Everything is best-in-class. That’s why the event raised one million net last year. That’s why it’s gone from one hundred to one thousand riders in six years. It’s an amazing event and also a community doing incredible things.”

Cyclesmith has become an integral community partner for Ride, helping to ensure the event’s success year-over-year.

While the Ride has hit capacity to safely execute the in-person experience for 2021, a virtual rider experience is open to all. To learn more or sponsor a rider visit yourrideforcancer.ca/donate.

 


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

 

Evolve Fitness Owners, Matt and Mitch Benvie, have been in a ‘friendly’ competition their entire lives – although Matt is quick to point out that he had the initial victory in life of being born 11 minutes earlier than Mitch.

As identical twins, the brothers and co-business owners thrive in a competitive environment, but share an aligned vision on and joint commitment to health and fitness, and giving back to one’s community. The dynamic duo were presented with an opportunity in 2020 for Evolve Fitness to join Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal.

And like everything the two get involved with, they dove in with full commitment and enthusiasm. Last year, Evolve Fitness recruited the event’s largest Ride for Cancer team to date with 151 team members who raised an incredible $175,378.

Ride for Cancer is such a meaningful event and with our large client base, the cause really hits home for many. It just felt very special, especially during a pandemic,” shares Matt. “Many of clients are like family to us. They align with our values and our mission, and when they see us getting involved with something, it makes it a lot easier for them to get on board too”.

And with Ride being a physical event, Mitch adds “it gives our clients a little something extra to work towards”.

Back again this year, Evolve Fitness have their sights set on an even larger team, with a bigger fundraising goal. Their initial goal was to recruit 200 team members and raise over $200,000. With such ambitious goals, the brothers brought back Team Matt and Team Mitch and now have over 276 Riders on their team and a new goal to raise $300,000.

Team Matt vs Team Mitch has deep rooted history, dating back to 2013 when they expanded Evolve Fitness to add a second gym. By challenging their clients to choose Team Matt or Team Mitch, the brothers foster an energetic, inspiring rivalry.

“We turn to competition to get people excited. Not only are they representing their team, they are representing Ride for Cancer,” explains Matt.

This year, both Matt and Mitch are featured in Ride for Cancer’s ‘faces of the fight’ marketing campaign. When asked which word they wanted put on their face with make-up, the choice was easy.

“Inspire. That’s my word,” says Mitch. “Anyone can inspire anyone else. The amount of clients who come into Evolve Fitness, overcome diversity and transform their lives, is truly amazing. They inspire me every day to do better.”

Matt sports the word passion. “Our entire business is driven by passion. Passion is giving everything you’ve got to something. We are all in and passionate about our clients, our community, our business, and now with Ride for Cancer. It is an event I will likely do for the rest of my life and we will proudly use it to inspire others.”

This year in particular, Matt and Mitch are extra passionate and inspired, as the cause hits close to home. With a young person in their life recently diagnosed with cancer, this year’s ride will be that much more personal for them.

“You can do everything right in your life, with health and wellness, and still be hit with something like a cancer diagnosis. You can’t always avoid it,” says Matt. “If cancer has touched your life, raising some money, while being part of a team, is a good journey to take. And knowing where the money is going, and staying local is a big part for me”.

Funds raised this year will bring the QEII Health Sciences Centre one step closer to introducing new state-of-the-art genetic sequencing technology to analyze the genes of thousands of tumour samples each year. With over 200 different types of cancer, and no two tumours or diagnoses alike, now more than ever there is a need to identify the most targeted and effective treatments.

Better outcomes, fewer side effects, access to a new therapy or clinical trial are all benefits this technology will bring to cancer patients. It can even spare patients from unnecessary treatments. This is a game-changer for those patients facing late-stage cancers.

As pre-COVID avid travelers and concert goers who are grounded in their home province for the time being, the brothers are fully focused on their business and their clients, having recently re-vamped their fitness programs for the virtual space.

They both hit the gym by 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. to train clients and write business content and the busy day unfolds, still making time to play some sports and have some ‘friendly’ games of ping pong. They both have been studying Spanish since the pandemic started, so that when travel is a safe option again, they are ready to immerse themselves in the countries they will visit.

Both share how much their job and their clients mean to them. “I love my job. It is a complete pleasure because of the clients we have,” says Matt. A feeling echoed by Mitch, “Not a lot of people can truly say they love their job”.

With over 276 riders on the Evolve Fitness team, the push is on. And the split between Team Matt and Team Mitch is heating up and the team as a whole has already raised an incredible $39,850 for the cause.

With just other five months until event day happening on October 2, Mitch is greatly looking forward to the team comradery of the day. “The event is unbelievable. And it is an investment in your own health, for your fitness now and for health care in the future.”

This weekend, you can make an impact with Matt & Mitch and East Coast Lifestyle founder, Alex MacLean by joining a FREE virtual workout in support of Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal! For every person who attends the free workout, FIVE DOLLARS will be donated up to $10,000 to the cause to help transform cancer care, here at home.

When: Saturday, May 1, at 10:00AM
Where: From the comfort of your home
Who: All ages and fitness levels welcome.
Equipment needed: None

There will also be over $10,000 in prizes drawn live during the event!

CLICK HERE TO RESERVE YOUR SPOT

 


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

Odette Merchant’s Ride for Cancer journey started in the Netherlands – a country known for its cycling. In 2014, Odette and her family took a trip to enjoy everything the Netherlands had to offer, including bike rentals to see the sites and enjoy the outdoors. This experience had a great impact on Odette, who found complete joy in the experience.

“Before I even returned home to Halifax, I told my family I wanted to get a bike,” says Odette.

Little did she know, it would be a very special bike. Shortly after her trip, Odette was strolling through her neighbourhood during Halifax’s Curbside Give Away Weekend.

“A lady, who I didn’t know, was putting a bike at the end of her driveway as I went by so I stopped and asked if she was selling the bike,” remembers Odette. “She said that she was giving it away and I thought that was so kind.”

It was an older model but in Odette’s eyes, it was like a shiny new bike. Her husband got the bike in peak riding condition and added a beautiful wicker basket. Odette headed out on the trails to enjoy her new prized possession. The local trails became a weekly destination for riding with a friend.

The following spring, Nova Scotia Community College – where Odette works as a manager – invited their staff to an information session about joining the college’s team in the Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal.

“I thought, someone had been so kind to me by giving me the bike that I get so much pleasure from, that I would try to pay that generosity forward and do something good for our community,” says Odette.

Odette quickly joined the NSCC Trailblazers team, training and fundraising for cancer care in Nova Scotia. And she’s continued to do so every year since.

In October 2019, Odette’s connection to the Ride for Cancer became even stronger. Shortly after completing the 2019 ride, Odette was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I never, ever imagined that I was going to become so personally connected to this event and to the community of riders who were all doing so much for cancer care,” says Odette.

Exercise is an important part of many cancer treatment plans and Odette had her special bike to carry her through this journey. Being able to train for the next Ride provided Odette with the motivation she needed to keep going, even on the challenging days.

“I got back on my bike as soon as I was able to and I was determined that I was going to be feeling strong enough to participate again,” says Odette. “The outpouring of support and encouragement from my family and friends and from my team was so positive. They helped me pedal!”

Shortly after Odette started chemotherapy and later, radiation treatments, at the QEII Health Sciences Centre, COVID-19 arrived in Nova Scotia. Odette is quick to point out that, despite the challenges of the pandemic and the quick pivots in health care, her care team worked incredibly hard to keep her safe and informed, and showed exceptional compassion throughout her journey.

In October 2020 – a year after her cancer diagnosis and just weeks after completing her final treatment – Odette completed her fifth Ride for Cancer.

“Ride day was a huge day of celebration for me. I had done the ride for so many years before and then it became even more personal when I had my own cancer journey. I was very, very grateful at the end of last year. Crossing the finish line was emotional.”

One of the things Odette loves about the event, she says, is that it’s for everyone – a fun ride where you don’t need to be an athlete to participate. Odette is also drawn into the atmosphere of the day.

“Ride day is awesome but the build up to ride day is really fun too. We always enjoy our training rides and our fundraising activities. It just takes a little bit of effort and the impact on our community is so profound,” she says.

Today, Odette is feeling really good and is back to work. Already registered for the 2021 Ride for Cancer, Odette’s story doesn’t end there.

Recently, her bike went missing when it fell off her bike carrier while she and her friend were driving on the Bedford Highway. When they went back to look for it, they couldn’t find it. While bikes are replaceable, Odette and her bike had quite a journey together and getting it back would mean the world to her.

“I went online and posted on Kijiji and Facebook and said my bike was missing,” explains Odette.

Her post was shared many times and she received dozens of kind messages from people she didn’t even know, wishing her luck in finding her bike. Then, in a twist of nothing short of fate, someone posted on their own social media that they had found a bike. Many people recognized the bike as Odette’s; shortly thereafter, she and her bike were reunited.

“It’s amazing to have my bike back,” says Odette with a smile. “But what stands out to me is the support I received from the community – the same support that inspired me to do Ride for Cancer the first time.”

You can support Odette’s ride and help fund the fight against cancer by clicking here


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

Erin Thibault is a Paediatric registered nurse, high-performance AquaBike/ triathlete and triathlon coach in Halifax.

Erin has competed around the world in places like New Zealand, Australia, Mexico and all over the States and Canada. Currently, Erin has her sights set overseas with hopes to compete at the 2021 World Triathlon Multisport Championships in Almere-Amsterdam, the Netherlands this September.

“I am planning on taking part in the AquaBike long course, which is a 4-kilometre open-water swim followed by a 180-kilometre bike. But with COVID – who knows if the competition will still be held,” Erin explains. With so much uncertainty surrounding the pandemic in terms of travel, Erin is choosing to find purpose in what she can plan for – making a positive impact here at home.

Erin will be taking part in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal in the 160-killometre road route, starting in Bayers Lake, riding to Chester, and taking the picturesque Aspotogan loop along the beautiful coast of the South Shore before riding back to Halifax.

“I chose the word PURPOSE across my face to represent finding a new purpose with not being able to travel and compete. My purpose is to use what I do as an athlete to bring awareness, raise funds and rally the community around the great needs in cancer care locally,” says Erin.

Funds raised will bring the QEII Health Sciences Centre one step closer to introducing new state-of-the-art genetic sequencing technology to analyze the genes of thousands of tumour samples each year. Better outcomes, fewer side effects, access to a new therapy or clinical trial are all benefits this technology will bring to cancer patients, here at home. It can even spare patients from unnecessary treatments. This is a game-changer for those patients facing late-stage cancers.

Erin works at the IWK Health Centre as an OR nurse and often works with patients who have been diagnosed with cancer, “I work with kids when they’re getting their port-a-cath inserted or taken out,” says Erin. “Days the port comes out are always party days for us.” Port-a-caths are sometimes used to give intravenous chemotherapy, and other drugs to cancer patients.

“Everybody knows at least somebody that has either had cancer or dealt with it in relation to a close family member or friend. There’s always a connection there. That’s why I’m riding this year. I also like having something to train for – I always like to have a goal I’m working towards. Training for this ride will keep me active and give me another outlet for my energy.”

Erin has been active for as long as she can remember. She got into swimming at a young age, encouraged to become a strong swimmer by her family because her grandfather had tragically drowned. She fell in love with the sport and went on to teach swimming lessons and become a lifeguard.

One Canada Day, Erin watched athletes compete in a triathlon around Lake Banook in Dartmouth and thought to herself, “I could do this.” Erin challenged herself and started to train. To start, Erin took part in a team triathlon with a couple of friends. Erin did the bike portion, “Our goal was simply to finish and we did, with a better result than we anticipated. That was the last race of the season, so then my goal became to train over the winter to do my first race by myself the next summer.”

Erin successfully competed that following summer and after a few years in the sport, she made it her goal to qualify for the triathlon World Championships in Auckland, New Zealand in 2012. She reached that goal and placed third in her age category. An incredible accomplishment.

“That’s where my passion for travelling and sport really started – and my obsession with always looking for the next adventure and challenge. I’ve climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, travelled to Africa, skydiving in New Zealand and repelling – I was finding my purpose in all sorts of different things. Now that travel and adventure are looking a little different, this event will serve as my next challenge and thing to look forward to.”

Erin is building her team to take part in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal, inspiring others to join the fight against cancer for patients and families in Atlantic Canada – but also for something positive to do for your own wellbeing.

“It’s a great thing to feel like you’re doing something for other people that also brings value to your own life,” says Erin. “You’re raising awareness, you’re contributing to better cancer care for our local hospital, and you’re becoming a part of a new community. There are so many positives – there is nothing to lose and everything to gain. Whether its community, friends, a healthy lifestyle or a new challenge, we could all use something to look forward to right now.”

Taking place on October 2, 2021, Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal will see hundreds of participants, inclusive of veteran cyclists like Erin, and recreational and rookie riders, riding their choice of distance options via the Rum Runners Trail or by the road – a safe distance apart. You can support Riders like Erin now by donating to this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal at yourrideforcancer.ca/sponsor


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.

For exercise physiologist, personal trainer and lifetime athlete, Joy Chiekwe, the hand-painted word ‘strong’ is a fitting choice to wear across her face with pride.

Much of Joy’s life has centered around sports, movement and goal-setting. These longtime passions have evolved from years spent playing competitive basketball and ultimate frisbee to now helping patients maintain or improve strength following cancer treatment.

As a clinical exercise physiologist, Joy uses exercise as a form of medicine to prevent and manage chronic disease, as well as help those living with and healing from life-changing conditions, like cancer.

An area of pride is Joy’s work with the ACCESS (Activating Cancer Communities through an Exercise Strategy for Survivors) program, where she works with cancer patients and survivors at the QEII Health Sciences Centre and across the Maritimes.

“A big part of my role is working with individuals to understand their cancer journey, their treatments and experience, and how we can incorporate movement and activity into their day-to-day,” says Joy.

The 12-week exercise program includes aerobics, cardio and resistance training, depending on a patient’s unique needs.

According to Joy, for some, it can be as simple as patients’ getting their daily steps in or using the floor or living room chair to maintain muscle and functional strength.

“The survival rate for cancer patients is continually increasing and improving, but the adverse effects from treatments are not,” says Joy. “Our ultimate goal is to help patients better cope with their treatments, reduce their time in hospital and improve their overall experience.”

Joy and the ACCESS team are fierce advocates for the role exercise and physical activity can play in the continuum of cancer care.

For Joy, her role has also introduced her to “some of the most inspiring people” she’s met.

“When you start in this field, you may have an automatic perception that these are folks who are incredibly frail and really struggling,” says Joy. “While that’s certainly the case for some, there’s also a lot of strength and a lot of hope in the people you get to meet and work with every day.”

The best days on the job are those when patients share that they’ve regained a sense of control.

“When it comes to cancer, there’s so much that’s out of your control,” Joy describes. “To see a patient’s eyes light up when they realize they can still do certain things or when they’ve reached a certain goal…it’s incredibly rewarding.”

A reason to ride

For second-time rider, Joy, her reason for participating in this year’s Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal is simple.

“I’m doing it for our patients,” says Joy. “For the individuals I’ve met and worked with and those I’ll continue to see right up until Ride day – in a way – it’s showing them that I’m here fighting for them too.”

So, if hopping on her bike and pushing herself to succeed can show some solidarity – while also impacting local cancer care at home – it’s a challenge she’ll happily undertake with pride.

As part of that challenge, Joy says she has big plans for her 2021 Ride.

Her goals include training for her 75-kilometre distance, raising as much funds as she can, and recruiting an all-star squad for her team, Black Wellness Co-Operative.

The team name reflects a newly formed group of Black health and wellness professionals in Nova Scotia – including Joy – who are committed to providing expertise, knowledge and training to underserved communities.

“I’m excited to ride and support a cause that so many of us are touched by,” says Joy. “I have friends who’ve been impacted by cancer and it’s really come to light how important this type of event can be.”

Taking place on October 2, 2021, Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal will see hundreds of participants riding their choice of distance via the Rum Runners Trail or by the road – a safe distance apart. You can support Joy’s team by clicking here!


 

Rider Stories are presented by:

Our Ride Community is comprised of inspiring advocates, warriors, survivors and fighters. This community is the reason we ride, to make an impact on cancer care for them and for future generations. As a proud sponsor of Ride for Cancer, AstraZeneca helps share these stories and inspires our community to continue the fight against cancer.