Monday, 12 September 2016

Putting in the work


Chemotherapy every day for months, and a lifetime sentence of always wondering if it'll come back is often a best-case scenario for kids diagnosed with cancer.

There are a lot of people working in hopes one day it doesn't have to be that way.

There's the scientists and doctors, developing new treatments that don't have as much chance of killing the patient as the thing that's killing them already.

There's the hospitals and health care foundations, trying to give those people every opportunity to make a breakthrough, and meanwhile providing the best care they can to patients and families already dealing with disease.

And then there's the rest of us, lifting both groups up with all we can.

Sometimes, you can be part of multiple groups.

I've seen nurses and doctors lead fundraising drives, patients become oncology staff, and foundations drop everything they're doing to support a child's lemonade stand that will make not even a quarter of a per cent as much as a big company donation.

For the group of cyclists going across Canada in three weeks, their trials pale in comparison to cancer patients. But to most of us, riding a few hundred kilometres a day seems superhuman. On Saturday morning Trish and I got to see them off on their fourth day - and it was special for a few reasons.

The most obvious reason was that not one, but both of my sisters are on the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride this year. Erin signed up long ago, then Shannon jumped on board after the two of them didn't make the cut for Canada's Amazing Race TV show. Together they've raised nearly $60,000 this year. They showed us the semi truck where they sleep each night, adorned with photos of Dominic.

If you're interested in following them or donating, here's Erin's page and here's Shannon's. They're also both blogging and taking lots of pictures along the way.

Two years ago the team got to meet Dominic, and gave him a jersey which now hangs on our wall. Last year Erin rode in with the team to Medicine Hat the day before Dominic's memorial service. At the Sears store, there was a tribute to a girl from the local college's volleyball team who was battling cancer.

This year she couldn't be there to see the riders.

She was too busy playing volleyball again.

Kaila Gavel was Medicine Hat College's rookie of the year in 2014. Then the Prince Albert, Sask. product was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma. The community came together for her last year, wearing purple and giving her every bit of support they could.

She wanted to say thanks to the Sears riders, but because the team was in Montana for pre-season play I did an impromptu interview with her.
I played the interview for the riders. I think it's important to see that not every cancer story ends in heartbreak. Far too many do, but stories like Kaila's are needed wins to keep us motivated in the fight.

Erin did the dedication for that day's ride, sharing Dominic's story. They then made great time - I like to think he was the wind at their backs.

The rest of the weekend, Trish and I hunkered down and worked on the upcoming online auction. The mini golf event at Hooplas was pushed back to next Sunday, Sept. 18 (11-2) due to bad weather, so we contacted dozens of sources who might want to donate an item to the auction. By the way, we've said this before but if you want to donate an item, simply email donations@dominicstrong.com.

Was it as hard as riding a bike for hours on end? Of course not. But the more work everybody puts in, the more support we can give, the better it is in the end.

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