February 4th is World Cancer Day – what better time to get to know someone who is fighting cancer? Michelle Sirio was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 36, and endured 22 cycles of chemotherapy. Now, Michelle is celebrating ten years cancer free. She is also just about to do her tenth Ride to Conquer Cancer! I spoke to Michelle about her amazing accomplishments.
How many years have you been doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer?
Michelle: I’ve been doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer for eight years and have completed nine Rides throughout Canada.
Which rides are you doing this year?
Michelle: I’ve been committed to ride The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. This year, I will be doing a different route than in the past. Instead of completing the Toronto to Niagara Falls classic route, I will complete the Niagara turnaround. In August, I will be riding from Surrey, BC to Seattle, WA in The Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Silver Wheaton benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. Each ride is over 200 km. I also hope to participate in The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Jewish General Hospital, a ride from Montreal to Quebec that takes place in July.
What motivates you to do the Ride to Conquer Cancer every year?
Michelle: I’ve always been a person of hope. I’m a strong believer that things do get better and not worse. At first it was supposed to be a one time thing – I didn’t think that I’d be completing nine rides in eight years and going on to complete ten rides in nine years (possibly completing an eleventh ride this year). Each time I complete a ride, I hear about great progress on new cancer treatments and new technology, and survival rates on the rise. Without fundraising efforts like the Ride, we would be much further behind on new treatments and the survival rate would be lower. This is why I am so motivated to ride every year and everywhere in Canada – because it’s been proven that there is such a thing as success to better treat the disease and even conquer it. I’m glad that myself, being a cancer survivor, and my Mom, currently in her second year of treatment, are able to see the outstanding advances in how cancer is being treated and conquered today.
Are there a lot of people in the Rides to Conquer Cancer who have survived cancer? Or is it mainly family and friends of survivors?
Michelle: The Ride to Conquer Cancer is for everyone who wants to give back and help conquer cancer. A lot of the Riders do this because they know someone that has been affected by cancer – either being a close family member or a good friend. There are Riders who are survivors or currently living with cancer, and that is a great inspiration. Some of the survivors choose to place a yellow flag on their bikes for awareness. The Ride to Conquer Cancer is for anyone of any cycling ability, too. It’s not a race! It’s a journey!
How do you prepare for the Ride to Conquer Cancer?
Michelle: Weather permitting, I get on my bike and train on real roads and find some hills to go up and down on to strengthen my muscles. I feel that going on actual terrain has more of an impact than just going on a spin bike.
Do you cycle all year round? If not, how do you maintain your fitness through the year?
Michelle: I do not cycle all year round for reasons of the winter season and cold weather. I hike through the woods on walking paths near my home. And I generally live an active lifestyle.
Do you have anything you would like to say to people who are thinking of doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer, but who may be a little nervous, or think they can’t do it?
Michelle: Just thinking of doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer is a great start and encourages a positive attitude to follow through and complete the event from start to finish. Don’t shy away from it and don’t have anyone discourage you from doing The Ride, in whichever city you choose. As noted, there are events in BC, Ontario and Quebec, along with The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting the Alberta Cancer Foundation, a cycling journey beginning in Calgary. The Ride is one of the greatest accomplishments someone can experience in their lifetime. It gives you that powerful energy at the end of the journey and it literally changes your life. Think of it as if you are helping to save someone’s life.
How much money do you have to raise to participate in the Ride to Conquer Cancer?
Michelle: Each rider has to raise a minimum of $2,500.00, but there is great support from Ride Guides to help everyone reach that goal. This is a big, community effort that brings Canadians from coast to coast to coast together.
How is your fund-raising going this year?
Michelle: It’s okay so far. I will start my full fundraising campaign on February 4th, which is World Cancer Day. The Ride encourages everyone to get involved leading up to and on World Cancer Day by registering for only $25 using promo code WCD25.
Which is harder – the fund-raising or the riding?
Michelle: LOL! Riding is tougher. Reason I say that is because only you will have the will power to train and prepare for the ride and nobody likes to feel tired after a hard workout! Fundraising is easier because there are people out there that understand the importance of why you have to fund-raise, and people are out there to help achieve your goal.
Where can readers go to support your fund-raising efforts?
Since 2008, the Ride to Conquer Cancer in Canada, with events in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, has raised over $304 million for cancer research, treatment, education and care! For more information about the Ride to Conquer Cancer events across Canada, please visit conquercancer.ca.
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