Heather Adams is an inspiring cancer survivor who is into her second year of cycling away from a frightening illness, working hard to try to reduce the suffering of others who will have to fight cancer in the future. We interviewed Heather, and are happy to share the responses of this remarkable and brave woman.
What Rides to Conquer Cancer have you done?
I completed the 2014 and 2015 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer events, each out of Toronto. The 2014 Ride was especially challenging for me, as I was continuing to recover from a major illness. I’d been interested in doing a Ride for a while, so I decided to create a two-part goal. Goal one was to raise the minimum $2,500 in donations needed to tackle the Ride, with the second to train for and complete the distance.
It was pretty scary to sign up to ride 200 kilometres in a weekend with zero certainty that I was capable of riding the distance. I started fundraising and training with short rides to start, building up my distances. Near the end of the summer, I did one 100-kilometre day so that I knew during the event that I could do it. It all came together – completing the Ride in 2014 felt amazing, as did all the support that I received from family and friends. Since 2008, the Ride in Ontario (June 11 and 12 this year) has raised over $138 million for Princess Margaret Cancer Centre!
What Rides are you Planning?
I plan to complete the trifecta with the 2016 Ride to Conquer Cancer in BC this August (27 and 28), and will decide over the winter if 2017 is a go. I’m really excited about completing the BC Ride that goes from Vancouver to Seattle. I absolutely love this part of the world. The geography dork in me is also fired up to cross the border on a bike. To date, the BC Ride has raised over $70 million for the BC Cancer Foundation – incredible!
What motivates you to do the Rides?
I am motivated primarily by my mom, and also a bit by a love of bikes and fitness. My mom was diagnosed in 2005 with multiple myeloma, a particularly nasty type of blood cancer. Doing these Ride to Conquer Cancer events is so important to me as it raises much-needed funds to fight back against cancer. There are treatments for multiple myeloma, but no cure. Much more research is needed for this and so many other cancers.
Tell us how it feels to do a Ride to Conquer Cancer?
Doing a Ride to Conquer Cancer is exhilarating, emotional, fun, tiring and inspiring, all at the same time. Finishing it feels like an accomplishment – a “boom – I did that!” kind of feeling.
Is it tough to do the fund-raising for a Ride to Conquer Cancer?
Honestly, for me, it really hasn’t been that tough to fund-raise. Asking others for money is always hard – hard to put pride aside and say, “Help, please?” That said, I have a network of extremely supportive friends, family, teammates and coworkers. I’m in awe at the support I’ve had. Many people in my network responded with their own stories of how cancer has touched them and their families (things like, “this donation is to support your Ride, your mom, and my husband”).
How do you train for a Ride to Conquer Cancer?
One of my favourite rides in Toronto is through the Don Valley to the Leslie Street Spit, which is closed to cars on weekends. I do a lot of cross-training through other sports as well. Knowing that the Ride in BC is at the end of the summer is lovely motivation to get out on my bike. I’m not exactly hard-core about it. An average training ride for me is 50-60-kilometres on a sunny weekend, perhaps with a nice half way point snack to enjoy while I look back at the Toronto skyline from the Spit. The training is much more than just event weekend. I love the motivation.
How would you advise or encourage someone who is thinking of doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer, but is intimidated about it?
I highly recommend that anyone thinking of doing the Ride to Conquer Cancer to take the plunge. I was very intimidated before my first Ride and I’m so glad that I jumped in. The Ride to Conquer Cancer is filled with people of all shapes, sizes, athletic abilities and types of bikes, all brought together for a great cause. There are experienced cyclists in matching spandex beside wide-eyed rookie riders. The event is very supportive. Everyone is there to support cancer research and those affected by the disease. Many people also love bikes.
If you are concerned about making the distance, there are checks and balances in place, whatever that is. If you ride 75-kilometres and are out of gas, there are sweep vehicles along the way to help out and take you and your bike the rest of the way. It’s kind of nice to know that it’s always an option – this is an event and a journey, not a race. That said, with some training rides in, you can go the distance.
Where can readers go to support your Ride to Conquer Cancer this year?
My 2017 rider page is here. Any support would be greatly appreciated.
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