Chris Brochu of Kamloops is participating in his second Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Wheaton Precious Metals benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation on August 26-27. I interviewed Chris to learn what inspires him, and get some insider tips of how to tackle this great cycling challenge. The Ride is a two-day, over 200-kilometre cycling journey from Vancouver to Seattle. Since 2009, the Ride in BC has raised over $77 million for the BC Cancer Foundation and is British Columbia’s largest cycling fundraiser.
Here’s why Chris rides: In 2009, he was 28 and diagnosed with stage 1c melanoma. Chris had the mole on his back removed, and learned that the mole was cancerous. So, a second surgery began, digging deeper into his skin. Chris was then deemed cancer free. There was a good chance that there would be no re-occurrence, so Chris didn’t opt for further treatment, because he knew the side effects would be painful.
Then, in May 2015, while on a hike, Chris started to feel very ill and went to a walk-in clinic. Doctors urged him to head to the ER, where he learned he had a collapsed lung and that the cancer had returned. This time, it was stage four metastatic melanoma.
Chris was put on an oral chemo pill that doctors warned his body could become immune to. And very soon, it did. Upon further research, Chris was sent to the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton for immunotherapy, which saved his life. He still goes to the Cross for follow-ups today, and his last one is just days after the Ride. Chris rides to help raise funds for the BC Cancer Agency so that treatments like the one he is on will continue to help save patients’ lives.
In 2016, Chris joined the Ride for the first time and prior to was not an avid cyclist. Now, he rides at least three times a week, often for 80 km distances at a time. This August, Chris is riding with his sister, brother-in-law, family friends and friends on Team Melanoma Warriors. Chris hopes his mom and dad will meet him at the finish line in Seattle.
I interviewed Chris about his upcoming Ride to Conquer Cancer
Joe: I believe you did the Ride for the first time last year. Can you tell me something about what that ride was like?
Chris: I did the Ride to Conquer Cancer for the first-time last year. I remember seeing the brochures at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton, Alberta, where I was going for my immunotherapy treatments. I was out on my mountain bike and got some inspiration and decided to do it! I was not a cyclist by any means, but I thought what the heck! I love a challenge and jumped on board with both feet.
The Ride is an amazing experience, so many people coming together to raise funds for the BC Cancer Foundation. The energy is like something I’ve never felt before. It is very inspiring and empowering to see thousands of people of all different walks of life doing a very important thing! I was never really into volunteering my time much before my journey with cancer, but now the feeling of giving back and providing hope for others is truly one of the best feelings in the world.
Joe: It’s a big challenge to do a Ride to Conquer Cancer. Do you have any kind of support system in friends, family and work? Would you like to tell us about it? How does your family feel about you doing this ride?
Chris: My friends and family are 100% supportive of me doing this ride. My mom and sister help out a lot with fundraising; without them it would be difficult for me. They have set up three different paint night fundraisers for our team this year, the Melanoma Warriors, as well as a fundraising dinner and silent auction. It has been incredible and I love them.
Joe: Please share with readers what motivated you to start doing the Ride.
Chris: What motivated me to start doing the Ride was the need for more cancer research here in BC. When I was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer, I was given a 15% chance of survival. At that time, there was only one treatment option available. I had to go to the Cross Cancer Institute to receive the life saving treatment of immunotherapy, and I continue to go there for follow-ups. I’m grateful that we have this care in Canada. It is important to note that the treatment I’ve received is not offered by the government but by the drug company. So that is my motivation – to give back to the community, hopefully helping others that are in the same situation and working to bring specific treatment to BC.
Joe: I have been told that you are still in treatment. Does the treatment impact your ability to ride and train?
Chris: While training for the Ride, I was pushed way out of my comfort zone. I hit a wall (a plateau, where your body says no more) one day at about 80-kilometres into a big ride. I thought, “I don’t know if I can do this,” for a brief second. I was going to give up. But I visualized all the people still needing these funds, including myself, and thought, “I can’t quit, this is to important.”
The great thing about doing this is the shape you get in. Your body feels very much alive and very healthy. I’ve taken pretty good care of myself though out my life but have reduced my alcohol intake and fuel my body with power food. I have never felt healthier in my life and I’m 35-years-old. It’s pretty awesome.
Anyone can do the Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Wheaton Precious Metals benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. You just have to commit yourself and apply the necessary time and training. It’s a long way, but I’ve been through far worse things in my life. The rewards far outweigh the time and sacrifices you make. There was a woman doing the Ride in 2016 on a bike that you sit in and pedal with your arms – now that’s impressive!
Joe: That is amazing! Do you plan to keep doing these rides in future?
Chris: Absolutely! My team and I finished the Ride to Conquer Cancer last year on August 28 at about 3:00pm. Coming across that Finish Line was the most powerful and emotional experience thus far in my life. There were tears of joy streaming down my face. I’ve never been much of a goal setter before, but then I set a goal, and I achieved it! Riding a road bike for that many kilometres is a very gratifying experience, especially with all the other riders, fans, police officers, volunteers and just people on the side of the road cheering you on. The support is amazing.
Joe: Are you able to find good places to train? Where do you do your 80 km training rides?
Chris: Training this year for the Ride has been challenging because of the forest fire situation here in BC. The smoke from the fires has been very bad and officials have recommended not doing anything physical outside, due to the pollution. So, I have been training quite a bit inside on a stationary bike, but it’s not the same. We do have a pretty good cycling route along Westsyde Rd in Kamloops, it is about 40-kilometres one way out to a ferry along the beautiful North Thompson Valley and then 40-kilometres back to my house. Lots of hills and it’s a really fun ride through beautiful farmland.
Joe: Do you train all year or just seasonally?
Chris: I usually start training for the Ride as soon as the snow is gone and they have swept the streets, so around May. I like to stay in shape throughout the winter, so I go to the gym probably three days a week during winter.
Joe: Do you eat a special diet to prepare for this ride?
Chris: I eat pretty healthy – lots of vegetables and fruit. I increase my carb intake and protein to give me lots of energy for rides, as well.
Joe: What would you say to encourage people who are thinking of doing the Ride, but are intimidated or nervous? And do you have any tips about fundraising for others who are trying to raise funds for the Ride?
Chris: I would say just go do it. The rewards are far bigger than I ever thought possible. It is an amazing feeling, giving back to others and seeing your dollars at work is pretty awesome. Anyone can do this Ride to Conquer Cancer and benefit the BC Cancer Foundation. I have completed the event while undergoing treatment. It was challenging at first ,but then I got addicted to cycling and now I love it! Fundraising for the Ride is difficult, but you just have to host fun and new events and ask, ask, ask for donations. Tell a good, true story about why you’re doing it. The Ride also provides training and fundraising support to all participants. Ride Guides call and check in with you throughout the journey, from the moment a participant registers, helping everyone meet their fundraising goal. It’s not too late to donate to the 2017 Ride on August 26-27 and any amount is significant! Visit conquercancer.ca today!
About The Ride to Conquer Cancer in British Columbia
What: The Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Wheaton Precious Metals benefiting BC Cancer Foundation
When: August 26-27 2017
Where: Vancouver, through the Pacific Northwest
Duration: Two days of biking, one night of camping
Event / Contact Info: (888) 771-BIKE (2453); www.conquercancer.ca
About the Ride
- The Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Wheaton Precious Metals benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation is an incredible two-day, over 200-km ride throughout Vancouver and the Pacific Northwest. The Ride is BC’s largest cycling fundraiser.
- In 2017, an estimated 10,300 people will die of cancer in British Columbia and 25,400 new cases will be diagnosed. Participants in the Ride come from all walks of life, and many have been directly impacted or are currently dealing with cancer.
- An estimated one in two Canadians will develop cancer in their lifetimes, and one in four will die from it. The Ride brings together communities of riders, survivors and their supporters for one common goal: A cancer-free future.
- Funds raised through the Ride to Conquer Cancer enable the BC Cancer Foundation to support breakthrough research and enhancements to care at the BC Cancer Agency.
- Funds raised ensure researchers and clinicians at the BC Cancer Agency have the support needed to re-invent the standard of cancer care through leading-edge research.
- The BC Cancer Foundation is the largest funder of cancer research in the province and is on a mission to reduce the incidence of cancer, reduce the mortality rate of people with cancer and improve the quality of life of people living with cancer.
- Total funds raised and final participant numbers for this year’s event will be announced moments before the Ride begins at the opening ceremonies in Vancouver on August 26th.
- Riders will be supported by hundreds of Volunteers and Crew Members, providing meals, water and snack stops, gear transport, portable restrooms, safety on the course, comprehensive medical services and an overnight campsite complete with tents, hot showers and entertainment.
- 2017 marks the ninth annual BC Ride, with similar Rides scheduled throughout the summer in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. The Ride to Conquer Cancer series is Canada’s largest peer-to-peer fundraising event.
- To date, The BC Ride has helped raise over $77 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. In 2016, 1,687 Riders raised $7.1 million. Since 2008, the Ride to Conquer Cancer event series has raised over $370 million across Canada.
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