Local residents take part in Great Cycle Challenge Canada, raise money to fight kids’ cancer
Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla - Staff Writer
Several Sioux Lookout residents joined the Great Cycle Challenge Canada and rode to raise money to fight kids’ cancer. One of four local riders, Brenda Voth, Manager of Laboratory and Diagnostic Imaging Departments at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre, has been a local resident for over 20 years and said she feels raising money to fight kids’ cancer is tremendously important. “The amount of research dollars that go in to childhood cancer research is a very small percentage. I think of ‘childhood cancer’ as an oxymoron. The two words do not go together. No child should ever have to endure such a terrible disease where their tiny bodies are literally poisoned in an attempt to cure them.”
According to the Great Cycle Challenge Canada’s website, this challenge was initiated in 2016, and just four years later, the event has grown to become one of the biggest cycling events across Canada. Cancer is the largest killer of children from disease in the country.
In this event, people of all ages and abilities across Canada, set themselves a personal riding goal, either outdoors or indoors on a spin or stationary bike, and challenged themselves to pedal throughout August to fight kids’ cancer. Over the years, event participants across all 10 provinces and three territories have ridden a total of 10,294,551 kilometers, having raised $12,412,026 in support of research to develop treatments and to find a cure for childhood cancer.
Cara Honeywood, who recently became a certified personal fitness trainer, said that helping others has always been her passion. “This past July I saw a Facebook post for the Great Cycle Challenge Canada. It caught my eye because since becoming a mother in January 2019, I haven't really had many opportunities to get out on my bike. I have always loved biking and this challenge gave me a fantastic reason to get back on my bike again, to help fight kids' cancer,” Honeywood said. She added that she was able to choose her challenge and ride at her own pace for a 50 km goal to raise $500. She was able to raise $650 for the cause. “I know there were others in our community that joined this challenge too and I think that is just so awesome! Next year I plan to ride again and to set higher goals. I hope more people will join in too!” she concluded.
According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, each year, an average of 880 children under the age of 15 are diagnosed with cancer, with approximately 150 kids dying from the disease. Among Canadian children, leukemia is the most commonly occurring type of cancer (33%), followed by brain and nervous system cancers (20%) and lymphomas (11%).
The website also states that cancer treatments can have mild to serious damaging effects on growing bodies. Approximately two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors experience adverse effects related to treatment later in life. These effects are known as late effects and may include cardiopulmonary, endocrine, renal or hepatic dysfunction, reproductive difficulties, neurocognitive impairment, psychosocial difficulties and the development of subsequent cancers. It is crucial to monitor the impacts of these adverse effects, in attempt to minimize the long-term effects on the quality of life of these survivors.
Karen Parent, another local participant, raised $3,279.32 this year to support research in finding a cure for pediatric cancers and for the development of new treatments and therapies designed for children.
Parent shared on her Great Cycle Challenge Canada participant page, “Tragically, one in every five children with cancer do not survive and those that do, struggle with the effects of their disease and treatments such as secondary cancers, neurocognitive impairments, sterility and organ failures. I’m pledging to ride 250 km in memory of my niece Robyn, for all of the children who have passed, and for those who are battling this disease and praying for a cure. Kids should be LIVING life, NOT fighting for it.”
According to 2020 Ontario Cancer Statistics, children with cancer continued to experience an increase in survival with the five-year overall survival proportion increasing from 76 percent between 1987 and 1991, to 85.3 percent in the latest five-year period between 2012 and 2016. The overall survival proportions are an estimate of the probability of surviving all causes of death.
Local resident Melvin Wesley also participated in the Great Cycle Challenge Canada. A survivor of residential school, he developed drinking problems as a consequence. During one of his visits to his treatment center he said that he accidentally came across a children’s cancer ward. “It really hit me when I reached that floor. It’s an awful sight to see for kids sick like that. I started getting nightmares of that event and that ward,” said Wesley. He was introduced to the Great Cycle Challenge Canada by one of his friends.
Wesley raised $730, and let nothing hold him back. Showing great dedication and compassion to raise money for this challenge, even after becoming soaking wet from the rain, he continued his ride to raise money.
2020 Ontario Cancer Statistics state that new cancer cases are predicted to increase by 25.4 per cent over the next 10 years, from approximately 91,946 cases in 2020 to 115,306 in 2030.
Voth, who raised $525.76 on this year’s ride, was also a part of this challenge in its inaugural year in 2016.
She shared that along with her love of cycling, especially for a good cause, finding out that her friend and neighbor Karen Parent was also riding in the challenge this year was an inspiration to her.
“I’m hoping that in the near future, less invasive and less toxic treatments are found. That’s why I ride in this challenge,”