Hayley Nickerson, a 12-year-old from Cole Harbour, is preparing to fight back against cancer by hitting the trail with her family for the newly implement 25km Youth Ride and she wants you by her side!

Although Hayley’s passions — softball and gaming — are pretty average for a youth, her story is far from it.

What’s special about Hayley, aside from being a triplet, is that she fought her own battle with AML Leukemia at age 9.

Hayley’s family started noticing frequent nosebleeds and persistent cold symptoms in early 2015.

A blood test was done by her family doctor and on the way home from a softball practice in June 2015 the Nickerson’s received the call every parent dreads.

“They told us to come to the hospital and be ready to stay a couple days,” says her father, Barry Nickerson. “It wasn’t a couple of days.”

Nine months, four rounds of chemo and over 50 blood transfusions later, Hayley was feeling strong enough to have the required bone marrow transplant.

“It sucked. That’s it,” says Hayley. “I just wanted to go outside.”

Her health continues to improve after the successful transplant and regular six month check-ups and she is back playing rep softball with the Sackville Surge.

Hayley and her identical twin sister, Alyson, are gearing up for a softball tournament where they will play against their triplet sister, Taylor, who plays for Cole Harbour Comets.

Soon they’re headed to Montreal for softball nationals. For many tournaments the Nickerson’s and other families with children on the Comets commute in travel trailers, somewhat of a softball camper convoy.

Despite her diagnosis and treatment, Hayley’s personality never faded.

Barry recalls her running around the bases barefoot after her first round of chemo and sneaking into the halls to fly her drone during her treatment.

“She doesn’t miss a beat,” says Barry. “And she didn’t then either.”

In 2017, Barry decided to tackle Ride for Cancer in honour of their battle. His team, the HALIFAX TPW Group, rallied 14 people and raised over $22,000.

This year, Hayley, her sister Alyson and their 17 year-old brother Cameron will join Barry and the HALIFAX TPW group to complete the 25km youth ride.

Although, Hayley is confident she could handle the 50km.

“I want to help other families that have to do this,” she says.

Hayley is looking forward to riding with of her doctors, Dr. Crooks., who is an avid biker and “as crazy as the kids.”

Alongside championing the Youth Ride, Hayley proudly gave Dr. Berman, aka Dr Fishy Fish, extra marrow for his clinical trials with his zebrafish during her treatment.

“All I’ll say is bring a buddy, you know, like a stuffed animal,” she says.

The Nickersons were lucky to have a positive outcome, but their fight against cancer continues.

Hayley is hoping her softball pals and gaming friends she spends time with online will join her for the ride.

Will you?

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.

Meet Jody Crane.

Jody is a Halifax resident and passionate cyclist. Whether it’s an afternoon bike ride in the valley or cycling a week-long journey along the beautiful landscapes of France, Jody is always looking for his next adventure on his wheels.

Last year, in support of Ride for Cancer, Jody took his love for cycling to a whole other level. The Hawaiian volcano of Mauna Kea is not only the world’s tallest mountain, but is also considered the most extreme cycling climb. “The climb is 68.4 kilometres and goes from sea level to approximately 13,800 feet,” says Jody. “I was on this challenge regardless…why not support a good cause at the same time?”

Ride for Cancer powered by BMO Bank of Montreal raises funds to advance cancer care in our region. Since 2015, the Ride community has raised $1.1 million net. “I haven’t been personally affected by cancer, but we all know someone who has been,” explains Jody.

In 2017, Ride for Cancer introduced the “Virtual Ride” option. The Virtual Ride is for anyone who is dedicated to the fight against cancer, but participating solely as a fundraiser. Last year, this was the perfect option for Jody, as his trip to Hawaii overlapped with event day. Not only was Jody our top virtual fundraiser, but was one of the 2017’s top overall fundraiser, raising an incredible $13,255.

“I got creative when it came to my fundraising,” says Jody. “I started with the simple asks within my personal network…friends, family members. But then moved to my business network.” Jody works at Dalhousie University and also owns a small business on the side – Brooklyn Audio Inc. “I started emailing customers I’ve worked with over the years,” he explains. “From there, I emailed distributors I work closely with and also my connections at Dalhousie.”

In addition to reaching out to his network, Jody also had small auctions on donated items, sold chocolate bars, and even used an old deck of cards to his advantage. “I had a deck of cards – if you purchased a card, I ripped it in two and threw one half into a hat,” Jody says. “Once all the cards were purchased, I drew for a 50/50 winner.”

Jody also reached out to different companies he works with. “For example, I advertise my side business with a website company,” says Jody. “I asked when I advertise with them next, if they would give me $150 off my cost and donate that towards Ride for Cancer.” He also made a similar ask to a storage company he rents from. “I asked if I could take my rent and donate it to the event on behalf of the company,” he says.

“It can add up quickly. Felt great to drop my donations off for such a great cause.”

If you want to join our fight against cancer, solely as a fundraiser – register with our Virtual Ride. Every dollar you raise is helping fund cancer care right here at home.