Ride to Conquer cancer

Toronto - niagara falls, on

June 12-13, 2010 | June 13-14, 2009 | june 21-22, 2008

Photos: 2010 | 2009 | 2008
Sponsors: 2010 | 2009 | 2008

I’ve always enjoyed a bike ride ever since I was a young boy and riding along with my friends.  But it was more of a second nature to me, being a young kid with his bike and roaming the neighbourhood.  It was not until now, years  after that first time I pedaled away, that my interest could take on a higher meaning, a much meaningful and important purpose - this time, I’m riding for people’s lives. 

On June 21-22, 2008, along with 2,850 riders, I was part of the first major cycling event benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital, one of the top 5 cancer research centers in the world.  It was a thrilling experience to be one of so many people all going for a common goal - to help find a cure to fight cancer and to remember and honour all those loved ones who succumbed to this disease.  The inaugural 2-day bike ride of more than 200-km (I had a reading of 213-km on my bike) from Toronto to Niagara Falls was also a mental and physical challenge to each one of us.  Despite the fact that we rode through many hills and valleys, flat, smooth and rough roads and through the cold, heat, rain, and wind (which at times never seem to stop), the terrain and elements didn’t extinguish the enthusiasm and spirits of the riders who participated on the ride and raised $14 million for cancer research!  The last 5-km gave me the most overwhelming feeling as the end was near at hand.  Nothing gave me more chills than crossing the Finish Line - to hear the roaring cheer of the anticipating crowd of families and friends welcoming us from our memorable trek.  It will be a similar scene when one day after all the research, challenges, and efforts are done, finding the cure will be like crossing that finish line and an even bigger jubilation will take place.  A big thank to the organizers of this event, to the sponsors, numerous support crews, and volunteers and to everyone involved.

This event will help fund the ongoing research to find a cure and also our way of thanking the surgeons and the medical and support staff of Princess Margaret and Mount Sinai Hospitals who cared for my wife.

The Rid
e event initially inspired me to write a song.  As time went on, I got even more energized that I ended up making a full CD!  The “Riding My Bike” CD is a celebration of life through songs and music, directly inspired by the bike ride events during the summers of 2008-2010.  Elsa sang with me in the medley of “Above All/ It Is No Secret”, the third track of the CD.  Some songs were also used by various bike fundraising organization in the US benefitting the American Cancer Society.

I did this ride again on June 13-14, 2009 along with 3,530 other cyclists and raised $14.5 million!  My last year to participate was on June 12-13, 2010 along with 4,108 cyclists and raised more than $16.1 million.

Each person at the event had their reasons to ride.  Mine was for my wife, Elsa, who was a  four-time breast cancer survivor!  You wouldn’t know it when you saw and talked to her because she was a fun, loving and beautiful person, inside and out, very outgoing and with a real passion for life.  She always looked after your best interest, often times before her own, even though she battled the disease since February 1996!  When you’re stricken with this illness, your whole life is changed - forever.  You keep hoping and praying that someday a cure will be made to finally end this disease.

We thought she was already cleared after five years but it came back in October 2002 and had another surgery.  Then again in September 2005.  It was just three months later in December, that same year, that she was operated again.  Through her many surgeries and therapies, my wife remained to be a real fighter and never complained from the many afflictions she went through.  I am so very proud of her!  My effort
to ride for cancer was incomparable to the many challenges my wife already endured over the years which affected her, both physically and emotionally.

In August of 2013, her breast cancer metastasized to her lungs and cancer fluid nodules were drained from her right lung.  It was stage 4 by that time but we didn’t know that was the case since she was still stronger in 2014.  However, in early 2015, the cancer had spread to her spine and had surgery (Kyphoplasty) to strengthen her fractured bones.  She progressively weakened as breathing became more difficult.  Cancer nodules continued to build up in her lungs once more and fluids were drained (Thoracentesis) from her lungs eight (8) times that year!  Sadly, after a lengthy battle, my dear, gentle, and loving wife lost her fight and passed away in the early morning of December 15, 2015.  (Click her picture above for her tribute site).

Earlier in 2015, two other loved ones lost their fight to cancer.  My brother, Michael, on March 2nd and my best friend, George Chan, on June 26th.

Thank you to everyone who has been with us and helped raise the funds which allowed me to participate on three consecutive years of this event and to continue with cancer research.  Someday, we’ll all be riding to a better tomorrow!

- Marc