The ninth-annual Ride to Conquer Cancer kicked off from the Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition Grounds at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning (Aug. 26).
More than 2,000 riders embarked on the two day, 200-km bike ride, which will take them from the Lower Mainland to Seattle in support of the B.C. Cancer Foundation.
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At the opening ceremonies, B.C. Cancer Foundation President and CEO Sarah Roth announced that this year the ride raised a total of $8.3 million to support cancer research and enhancements to care.
An estimated 1 in 2 Canadians are expected to develop cancer over their lifetime, according to the B.C. Cancer Foundation. In B.C., that works out to an estimated 25,400 cancer diagnoses a year.
Nicola Anderson and Erin Barrett, cancer survivors who are part of Team Lady Bits, shared their stories with the crowd at the opening ceremonies.
Two months into her pregnancy, Anderson was diagnosed with a molar pregnancy. “Which, in short, means that instead of a baby growing, a tumour grew,” she explained.
“Instead of celebrating a baby, we were referred to the B.C. Cancer Agency,” said Anderson.
Barrett’s story began with a pregnancy, too. “I was pregnant with my second child when I got really sick,” she said. Barrett was admitted to the hospital when she was eight months along, and there they found out that she had been growing a tumour in her left ovary.
“The tumour was so big, it was bigger than a volleyball, and it was actually bigger than my baby,” said Barrett.
During an emergency cesarean section, doctors delivered Barrett’s daughter, and removed a tumour that Barrett and her husband “jokingly named Ozzy.”
“You often hear people say, ‘Cancer is a gift,’” said Anderson. “Erin and I have yet to experience such an epiphany, but we can tell you who has been a gift. The people who have pulled us through. The people, who, when life got hard, showed up.”
“We owe everything to our parents, our husbands, who are here today, and some of the best friends you can imagine,” said Barrett. “They were with us for every doctor’s appointment, they held our hands through treatment, and they never wavered in the belief that we would be okay.
“And we are,” she said. “We’re okay.”
Since the B.C. Ride to Conquer Cancer began nine years ago, it has raised more than $85.3 million for the B.C. Cancer Foundation. Since 2008, rides across the country have raised more than $378.3 million.
The cyclists are scheduled to finish at King County’s Marymoor Park, in Washington, on Sunday, August 27.