A Virtuous Cycle


Readers of this blog know that I pledged to ride, run, swim and paddle 7,000 km in under a year in support of cancer research, prevention and care at the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

I used to run a lot when I was younger…and running 3-4 times a week kept me in touch with not only the physical and mental health benefits of running, but also the well of creativity that one can access when pushing hard physically…the turning off of the chattering mind and turning on of the benefits of flow.

Frankly I made the pledge to cover 7,000 km on a bit of a whim…I was reading about the 40th Anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope just as it was announced that my annual Ride to Conquer Cancer had been cancelled.  As a supporter of cancer research I wanted to do something and the Give’r Project was born.

Stuck inside on a trainer for the most part I had started to flag last week…feeling isolated and wondering if I had bitten off more than I could chew.  But now, 6 weeks and 950 km in,  I feel like I have crested a big hill.  I feel stronger all of a sudden, and the riding is less drudgery and more inspiration.  I have tapped that well and where there was boredom, isolation and anxiety I am now experiencing expansiveness, wellness and creativity.

I heard someone say today, related to the pandemic, “…tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”

I’m feeling it.  If you are having a hard time getting moving, maybe you should just Give’r.

A Good News Cancer Story


I had the great good fortune to attend (virtually) the Alberta Cancer Foundation‘s Clinical Trials Day crowdcast yesterday from the Cross Cancer Institute.  It was truly thrilling…and you can watch it here if you are interested.  I watched Session 2 from the CCI.

Charismatic nerd and Rockstar in his own right Dr. John Mackey kicked off the session before heading off to the clinic, introducing Research Rockstar Dr. John Walker.  I’d heard Dr. Walker speak on another occasion…introducing the story of how the CCI had initiated clinical trials of Combined Nivolumab and Ipilimumab or Monotherapy in Previously Untreated Melanoma.  In 2010, before this novel immunotherapy combination had been discovered, the survival rate for late stage melanoma was less than 10%.  Now the 5-year survival for Melanoma is over 50%.   Dr. Walker was joined by Cam Lane that day…a patient whose life was saved by the clinical trial and who rode with us on Team Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Yesterday John introduced Chris Brochu…another patient who benefited from the trial and whose life was saved.  Chris shared the story of how he had a melanoma removed in 2009 in BC and was treated with Chemotherapy for a recurrence in 2015.  When the Chemotherapy proved ineffective he was out of options locally and given 4 weeks to live.

Luckily his doctors recommended that he join the clinical trial at the Cross Cancer Institute.  Chris came to Edmonton, rented a house, and joined the immunotherapy clinical trial.  At age 33 Chris’ life was saved.

This may be the most poignant modern demonstration of the power of cancer research and the private donors who fund it that I have ever heard.

Immunotherapy is exciting because it works by boosting the body’s natural defenses to fight cancer, rather than introducing a poison to try and kill it.  Dr. Walker shared that Dr. Michael Chu is working to bring even more exciting clinical trials in cellular therapy to the Cross.  Cellular therapies are manufactured by collecting a specific set of cells from the blood, modifying them to produce a more vigorous attack on a patient’s cancer cells, and then re-injecting them into the patient.

After the session I increased my fundraising target for my Give’r Project to $10,000…the cost to enroll one patient in a clinical trial.  Better yet, every dollar we raise can be leveraged to receive 5 or more dollars from pharmaceutical companies and other granting agencies.  Hope you’ll join me!