I first entered the world of childhood cancer as a counsellor at Camp Trillium in the year 2000. It quickly became apparent that this week away was often the only break that these families would get from their time at the hospital.
Fast forward to today, I am now a pediatric oncologist. I am the person who tells families their child has cancer. Often I get to tell them their child is cured and watch the relief flood over their faces. But for 1 out of every 5 kids, I still have to say “the cancer is back, and it might take your child’s life.” In addition, as the Medical Director of the POGO AfterCare program at McMaster Children’s Hospital in Hamilton, I see in my practice that surviving cancer isn’t the end of the story. As many as 60% of survivors will experience at least one chronic health problem due to their cancer and/or its treatment.
Since becoming an oncologist, I have been privileged to get to walk the cancer journey with so many kids and families. That is why three years ago, I upgraded my commuter tank with a basket to a road bike to ride in support of kids’ cancer care. Since then, I’ve been hooked. I love the feeling of sunshine on my back, and watching the scenery race by on a gorgeous day outside. This year, I am taking it to the next level and riding across Canada in Coast to Coast’s National Kids Cancer Ride taking place from September 4 – 21, 2019.
I am riding to support organizations that I’ve seen make a tangible difference to our families–the Children’s Hospitals (including mine!), the cancer camps, advocacy and support organizations, research funding and more. I am riding for our families–the ones who lost kids, those who are still supporting childhood cancer survivors, and the ones that are facing a brand new diagnosis. I am also riding for my dad who passed away after his own second cancer relapse this past year. I got to hear the words I often say, “His cancer is now incurable”…so I am riding in the hope that one day we’ll never have to say or hear those words again.
For those not familiar, this ride equates to about 150km/day for 18 days, as we cycle across Canada from Vancouver to Halifax during Childhood Cancer Awareness month in September. The ride raises funds through the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, which supports so many programs for our families affected by childhood cancer. Please consider supporting me here through donations: http://staceymarjerrison.nationalkidscancerride.com, as well as spreading the word.
I will be posting updates on my twitter feed and instagram accounts @staceymarj. I hope you will follow along as this journey continues, and that you come out to cheer us on as we ride through your city!