On August 28, 2016 The BC Ride to Conquer Cancer wrapped up another successful year. 1,687 riders participated and $7.1 million dollars was raised for cancer research.
In 2012 and 2013, I volunteered with the BC Cancer Agency. Unexpected health issues and commitments have kept me from volunteering since.
It was definitely more than just being a volunteer; it was a life altering experience. The Ride is a coming together of people from all walks of life who have one thing in common, "cancer".
Cancer may have taken away someone they loved or their loved one is currently battling cancer or they are a survivor or know a survivor.
I lost my fiancé Michael to cancer and after eight years, it still is hard to think about all the pain and suffering he had to endure. On the other side I am grateful that I know so many cancer survivors.
On the first day of the ride I remember waking up very early and getting a ride down to our pit stop. We set up the various stations, water, Gatorade, protein bars, granola bars, fruit and the infamous and coveted waffles. My job was humbling and I was grateful that I was healthy and able to help out. I filled water bottle after water bottle, handed off snacks and wished riders a good and safe ride as I waved them off.
The end of the first day of the ride is one of the highlights. Riders are emotionally drained but feel a sense of accomplishment as they completed their first day. For many it is their first time and others a yearly event. In the evening, in the dining area, up on the stage, some riders shared their stories as to why they participate. All are very personal and emotional. It was interesting how we reacted to the stories, we were deeply moved and it just strengthened our resolve to fight harder and raise more money.
My first volunteer year was extra special as I knew several of the riders and it was a special joy as I watched them cross the finish line.
Participating in the Ride either as a rider or a volunteer makes you feel less helpless. You are doing something to make a difference. Research saves lives.
After Michael died, I felt powerless. Our love wasn't enough to save him, I felt like if I loved him enough he would be here. It is my hope that in 5 years or less that those with the same type of cancer that took Michael from us will be able to beat cancer because of the inroads made with research.