These days, everyone knows someone who has or had cancer. I am no different. On April 5, 2014, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
My father died from cancer when I was still a teenager. Back in those days, diagnosis was often delayed and survival rates were low. I was inspired to pursue a career in health care and I graduated from BCIT as a Nuclear Medicine technologist. Most of my early career was spent as the Chief Technologist at BC Children's Hospital -- Nuclear Medicine plays an integral role in the diagnosis, detection and treatment of various types of cancer so I encountered oncology patients on a daily basis.
Over the years, many friends, neighbours and relatives have been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, too many have lost their battles.
As a health professional, I know how important funding for state of the art equipment and research is if we expect to conquer this disease. Over the years, many friends, neighbours and relatives have been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, too many have lost their battles. I have two close girlfriends who are currently undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Very recently, two of my closest friends -- both young, health-conscious individuals -- fought valiantly but succumbed to the disease. So, cancer has been no stranger in my life and I have always supported the fight against cancer -- but the battle was about to become even more personal.
I had gone for a routine annual mammogram a few weeks earlier. I had no lumps or bumps, no family history. I didn't smoke or drink and led a relatively healthy lifestyle. I couldn't possibly have cancer, right? Wrong. On the day of my diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound the radiologist told me that they found a 7 mm lesion that was highly suspicious for a malignancy. The biopsy confirmed I had Stage 1 Invasive Ductal Carcinoma. Thus began my breast cancer journey.
Fast forward one year, and I have had a lumpectomy to remove the tumour and I have completed radiation therapy. I was fortunate that the tumour was found early enough that I did not require chemotherapy. I will remain on Tamoxifen for a total of five years. After radiation was finished I embarked on a strict diet and exercise regimen. My health regained and I started looking for my next challenge.
That's how I found The Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Silver Wheaton benefiting BC Cancer Foundation, a two day, 200 kilometre cycling event from Vancouver to Seattle. I knew right away that signing up would enable me to give back and help others facing cancer.
Why am I riding? Let me count the reasons:
I ride in memory of my father, my friends, my neighbours and the patients I have met through the years.
I ride to express my gratitude to the health care professionals who have treated me so well. Their expertise and dedication have ensured that my chances of survival are as high as possible.
They all endured countless tests and treatments so that other cancer patients like me could benefit in the future. I am indebted to them for their courage and sacrifice.
I ride in support of my friends who continue to battle this disease. Their strength and conviction to beat this disease will be the inspiration I draw upon as I am peddling up those hills!
I ride to express my gratitude to the health care professionals who have treated me so well. Their expertise and dedication have ensured that my chances of survival are as high as possible. It is time for me to give back and ensure that they continue to have adequate resources to do their best work.
I ride because my life may depend on it. In many ways, participating in The Ride is self-serving because I know that I will ultimately reap the benefits of breakthrough research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency.
The 2016 BC Ride takes place August 27-28, 2016. You can sign up or learn more about The Ride to Conquer Cancer by visiting www.conquercancer.ca.
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