I’m back! And you’ll never guess who I’m bringing with me this time…my husband Steve!
Steve and I will be participating in the 2017 Sears National Kids Cancer Ride and we’re thrilled to be sharing this adventure together. As you may recall, the SNKCR is a coast to coast cycling trek that begins in Vancouver and ends in Halifax, and this year it will take place over 19 days from September 7 – 24th.
In 2013 and 2015 (yes, this is my 3rd ride!) I dedicated my cross-country trips to amazing kids that Steve and I had met while cycling in less challenging but equally inspirational rides, the Tour for Kids. The children we met along the way were amazing – plain and simple. Faced with enormous adversity, they maintained positive outlooks and rarely retreated into moments of self-pity as many of us might have. They dreamed bigger and louder than anyone and I was immensely proud to honour them in my previous SNKCR rides.
This year however I’m excited to share that we’ll be dedicating our ride to someone a bit closer to home – Steve’s late cousin, Karen Hawkins.
As way of background, like most children Karen had a carefree childhood full of love, joy, and laughter. As kids her family and Steve’s were inseparable, spending long summer days playing, exploring and growing up together …until the day Karen got sick.
Karen, a once vibrant and social young girl, suddenly became absent from their lives and it became apparent that it was more than a routine bout of the flu keeping her away. At the tender age of 7, she had developed retroperitoneal sarcoma, a rare cancer that attacks muscle, bone, nerves, cartilage, tendons and blood vessels. As a child she underwent numerous surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy and was not expected to survive. However, like so many brave children who were lucky enough to call The Hospital for Sick Kids home for a while, Karen beat the odds.
Over the years, very few remained untouched by her compassion, wisdom, generosity, humour and the beauty she brought to the world through her art and inspirational approach to living each day to the absolute fullest. Unfortunately though, the ravages of the treatments that saved her life as a child left her with many challenges as an adult: she only had one functioning kidney, lungs that were irreversibly compromised, a thoracic cavity that did not develop in sync with the rest of her body, osteoporosis, and countless other health challenges. Effectively, the treatment that enabled her to thrive through adolescence eventually caused her health to severely decline as an adult and sadly, Karen passed away in 2005 at the age of 44.
By participating in this ride, we hope to help educate people across Canada about this horrific disease. Very few of us are aware of the long-lasting effects that cancer can have on child survivors into adulthood and even fewer know that childhood cancer is the most underfunded of all cancers in Canada.
Not only does it affect the children diagnosed but it also has a drastic effect on family members who must provide emotional, mental and sometimes physical support around the clock. These effects include cardiovascular complications and learning difficulties, that frequently result from the treatments of this horrible disease. For these reasons, and many more, we are committed to ride and share as much information as we can to people across this incredible country, and we will do everything in our power to give those whom we’ve lost, a voice to hopefully one day end this devastating disease.
Riding in the Sears National Kids Cancer Ride will channel our physical, mental and emotional energy into something much greater – helping brave children return to life as regular kids again. We will share the road with a team of cyclists, united in our commitment to the childhood cancer community. Your support is welcome and needed. Please join us in this powerful and inspiring experience by helping to fund important childhood cancer charities across Canada.