STORIES

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The men and women who sign up for The Ride to Conquer Cancer often do so because they have a loved one who has personally experienced this disease.

 For Gillian Aitken, it’s loved ones. Moreover, this Rider is determined to complete the two-day, 200-kilometre journey for herself as she battles chronic leukaemia. She shares her inspiring story with the rest of our Ridership.

I am taking on The Enbridge® Ride to Conquer Cancer® benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation Presented by Evraz. I am riding with my life partner Patti for her sister who is living with breast cancer as you read this. I’m also riding for my mom who in 2014 died after a five-year battle with skin cancer, and my father, a lymphoma survivor.

Three weeks after my mother passed away, I was diagnosed with chronic leukaemia and am in active treatment at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre in Calgary. Patti’s sister has been guiding me through my chemotherapy of which I have two more treatments.

As a survivor with chronic leukaemia, I am the living, breathing inheritor of the amazing research being done here in Alberta. As a result of modern treatment, I am able to give The Ride a try, and although I cannot look into the future with certainty, there is no reason to expect I will not have a long remission.

Despite everything that my family and I have been through, I am committing to completing The Ride in August as a reminder that I am healthy, that I can do this and that others can join me in the conquest. Though I have never cycled this distance before, The Ride is a big enough goal and one that makes even cancer recovery seem attainable.

I will be riding on Team One Aim, a group that hopes to raise over $50,000 this year. Patti recruited me to the team and has promised that not only will she ride in my honour, but also she will be by my side, pedalling through the foothills. Having the support of Patti, loved ones and the teams at Tom Baker motivates me to prepare for the 200-kilometre journey.

David Seretny is a Ride to Conquer Cancer participant from Edmonton.

 In 2015, David’s mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Sadly, after a quick battle with the disease, it took her life in April 2016. Four months later, David teamed up with Schneider Electric for his first Ride to honour his mother.

 In his own words, this son and Rider shares his mother’s cancer care experience at the Cross Cancer Institute.

What type of treatment did your mother receive at The Cross?

She knew something was wrong, and everything came to head in September 2015.

By the time it was diagnosed, the cancer was already stage IV. Treated at The Cross, she underwent six months of chemotherapy to prolong life and reduce symptoms. The treatments bought her some time, but the cancer was too advanced. She took her last breath in April 2016.

How has The Cross impacted your life?

The Cross made a difficult situation less gruelling on my mom and my entire family. In an effort to show gratitude and give back, I participated in The 2016 Ride. The experience was beyond words—so much so that I signed up for The Ride [again].

What has life been like since experiencing your mother’s cancer journey?

It was hard on us all. Luckily, the majority of our family is in Edmonton, so we all came together. While tough for the entire family, my dad, married for 43 years, is still adjusting to life without his lifelong love.

Supporting my desire to give back, he joined me at the start line and greeted me with open arms as I crossed the finish line. That moment—the emotions we shared—is something that drives me in the months leading up to The Ride.

When asked by colleagues and friends why they should get involved, the answer is simple: Cancer is a terrible disease. It may not affect you, but it affects someone you know. Funds raised through The Ride help support the goal of eradicating the world of this disease. Don’t wait until cancer finds its way into your life before making an impact. Act today.

Strength in numbers. It’s how we make an impact for cancer patients and their families across Alberta, and it’s why Tyler is teaming up this August.

 He shares with our Ridership not only his personal inspiration to ride, but also the ways in which his teammates from Team Enbridge help him get ready for this epic journey.

I ride in honour of my father-in-law, Aimee Vautour, who sadly passed away from lung cancer in 2001. Losing Aimee was devastating to my family and me. And while Aimee died nearly 16 years ago, the heartbreaking memory has stayed with me. I ride in his memory, and my wife and three children could not be more proud.

Leading up to The Ride, training and fundraising with a team is invaluable. I live in New Brunswick, but the support of my teammates has allowed me to keep pedalling and keep asking for funds even though I’m on the other side of the country.

Before my first Ride, a lot of my team members gave me hints, tips and tricks that would help me get to the finish line. They emphasized that this is a ride, not a race, and to go at my own pace. I’m thankful for the insight, motivation and inspiration that they continue to provide to take on this epic challenge.

The Ride is both a physical challenge and a personal one. Pushing myself to complete the distance and raise the funds for the Alberta Cancer Foundation with the support of Team Enbridge is not like anything I’ve ever experienced. With my team’s support, I know I can conquer anything.

Dianne Bowtell rides to both celebrate her resilience in the face of cancer and support others going through the same experience.

 Her journey with cancer began in early January 2015. A diagnosis was followed by nine months of intensive and extensive rounds of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation to eradicate her grade 3, stage 3 tumour. By autumn of that year, she was at the Cross Cancer Institute every day for treatment.

 In her own words, this cancer survivor and Rider shares her cancer care experience at the Cross Cancer Institute.

Can you describe how you felt when you first heard the cancer diagnosis?

In an uncharacteristically grim voice, my family doctor confirmed, “You have breast cancer.” The suspicious lump I found weeks earlier had changed my life!

Beyond the cancer care received, what was it like at the Cross Cancer Institute?

The Cross is a place of hope. When you enter the doors, it becomes apparent immediately that you are among people who are on the same journey as you…

What has life been like since treatment?

The regular treatment regime has concluded, but my journey continues, as I will not be declared a survivor until 2020. I will continue daily medication until 2025 to prevent and treat any future cancer. My fellow patients dubbed “Breast Friends” have taken to calling this period of uncertainty our cancer shadow phase.

How has The Cross impacted your life?

The Alberta Cancer Foundation has supported my journey and the hundreds of other Albertans through our challenges. I have benefited directly from research on lifestyle, exercise, support and enhanced care all funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Research results are helping to define new and precise effective treatment to conquer this dreadful disease. It is now my turn to give back. And I am proud to be riding with the Team Cross Cancer Institute.

Would you recommend The Cross to others in similar situations?

I absolutely would without a doubt. The knowledge and the support that you need are waiting for you just beyond the doors. There is nothing that I could have done on my own.

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Phasellus consequat orci ultricies sapien placerat, nec gravida nibh volutpat. Donec eu nulla arcu. Ut ultrices in turpis fermentum suscipit.

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