1,110 km down & $3,175 raised! Give’r Project Week 7 Update


We’re over 32% toward our goal of funding a potentially lifesaving critical trial for someone facing cancer.

Through the past 7 weeks on the bike  I have reclaimed my appreciation of the flow that comes from long, difficult physical exertion.  It has been a revelation…rediscovering what I knew 15 years ago when I was regularly running and training for 10k’s, half marathons and triathlons.

The Give’r Project – a continuation of 13 years of cycling and fundraising for cancer research – is a beautiful compliment and reinforcing of a lifelong commitment to fitness, health and well-being.

There really is only one finish line, and when we see a world free from cancer in 2030 it will be time to share a beer, some high-fives, and then lace up and keep right on going.

Thanks for supporting my Give’r Project.  Join Team Cross Cancer Institute or create your own team and Just Give’r.

A Virtuous Cycle


Readers of this blog know that I pledged to ride, run, swim and paddle 8,000 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 8,000 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!

 

 

The Give’r Project


On April 12th, 2020, the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, Team Giver and I will begin a commitment to cover 8,000 kms across Canada cycling, running, swimming and walking on Strava to fund raise for cancer research.

The Motivation

On April 9th we learned that the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is postponed until next year due to CoVid-19.

The Ride has been the single largest fundraiser annually in support of cancer research, clinical trials, prevention and care in Alberta for 11 years, and the need continues. I’ve spent the last couple days wondering what I can do to help.

One thing is certain…without the critical funding that the Ride and countless events like it provides lives will be lost. If you are able to, amid all this upheaval, and if you still want to support the work of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, please join Team Giver and fund raise alongside me for this cause that affects us all.

Whether through cancer research or clinical trials, the work that the ACF does here in Alberta benefits everyone around the world. If you want to create a Give’r Ride to support your local foundation where you are let’s do that too! Join Team Giver on Facebook hit me up and we’ll create a new fundraising page.

If you aren’t a rider, or a runner, but want to continue to support, please consider a donation through the Give’r Project here:

100% of your donation will go to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

How far we’ve come

On October 11, 2020 I will celebrate 15 years as a cancer survivor. 2020 is our 14th straight year fundraising and riding so that others diagnosed with cancer might be saved the way I was. Along the way we’ve raised over $96,800 together, and our teams have now raised over $638,000. This is all because of your generosity, and your belief in the cause.

Team Give’r Across Canada

On April 12th, 2020, the 40th anniversary of Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope, Team Give’r and I will begin a commitment to cover 8,000 km cycling, running, swimming and walking on Strava…in 365 days…all over Canada. Many of you will know that this was the planned distance of Terry’s cross-Canada odyssey beginning in 1980…cut short by lung cancer.

This will be a challenge in a number of ways…not least of which that I’ve personally never done anything like this before. The challenge is nothing beside the trials that Canadians facing cancer and their families go through every day. With your generosity, important breakthroughs will continue to be made in the pursuit of cures and treatments for cancer.

Toward a World Free from Cancer

As an advocate for the cancer community I’ve said countless times that our goal is “to see a world free from cancer in my lifetime”. I’m 52. From everything I have seen and heard I am convinced we are only 10 short years away from the reality of a world free from cancer…when the overwhelming majority of cases cancer will be curable.

My Story

I was diagnosed with testicular cancer on October of 2005…a diagnosis that only 40 years ago would have been a certain death sentence. Luckily there is more to my story. Because of private funding for cancer research testicular cancer is now curable in over 80% of cases.

After successful surgery and a clean CT scan we opted for regular surveillance – blood tests, x-rays and scans – in the hope of avoiding further treatment. Christmas of 2006 brought the unhappy news of enlarged lymph nodes in my abdomen, confirming that the cancer had spread. I was prescribed a 9-week course of chemotherapy after a panel of experts reviewed the results of 2 scans. The treatment was life threatening in itself, with frightening side effects, but I emerged in April battered but with a clean bill of health. Victory.

Having been through diagnosis, surgery, surveillance and chemotherapy I can say from experience how extraordinary our cancer control system is in Canada. My survival is a testament to how important ongoing cancer research is. Cancer research quite literally saved my life.

If you want to join Team Give’r and support either the ACF or your own local provincial foundation, like Team Giver on Facebook and hit me up. Our goal is for Team Give’r to spread wherever it can until we finally see a World Free From Cancer.

Follow our progress on Instagram: @Andrew_Gregory and on Twitter: @Andrew_Gregory @teamgiver

Thanks for reading!

Choose Cancer


On October 11, 2015 I enjoyed my 10th anniversary of being diagnosed with cancer.  On that day 10 years ago cancer chose me.  This is an appeal that you join me and thousands of Canadians in choosing “conquering cancer’ as a mission…that you join us in pursuing a cancer-free future through the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer, Presented by EVRAZ.

Why Choose Cancer?

  • 1 in 4 Canadians are expected to die from cancer.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of premature death in Canada.
  • 40% of Canadian males and nearly 45% of Canadian females will develop some form of the disease in their lifetimes.

One of my close friends lost his young wife to breast cancer after a long battle.  The mother of a girl that we met at our daughter’s class lost her brother at a young age to testicular cancer.

945C4472We all know cancer survivors.  I have a close friend who is thriving after surviving breast cancer.  Among my circle of guy friends four of us have had testicular cancer.  We are all doing great despite being diagnosed with diseases that were sure killers mere decades ago.

It must be said that these survivals also represent spouses, children, parents who still have loved ones in their lives.  Each year, over 1,000,000 years of life are lost in Canada alone as a result of cancer deaths.

There is no denying that this is a disease that affects all of us.

Breakthroughs are being made every day in the race to find cures for this deadly disease. Simply put, our financial support of this cause goes directly to impacting outcomes for our neighbours, our colleagues, our family, ourselves.

As a 40-something male who has survived cancer once I am also keenly aware that the bulk of cancers that kill men still lurk in my future.  Make no mistake…investing in effective cancer research is in our own personal best interest.

So what’s a person to do to?  Quit smoking, eat well, exercise, manage stress and give back by funding the world-class prevention, screening, research and enhanced cancer funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation.

Once my treatments began, I quickly realised that if I survived I would owe my life to visionary cancer researchers and breakthroughs funded by everyday people who cared.  Back in March, 2007 I emerged after 3 cycles of chemotherapy battered and a caricature of my previously athletic self.  I was barely able to jog 100m, but I found a brochure at the cancer centre for a 90km fundraising ride and signed up with determination to claw my way back to fitness.

That was 2007, and I’m fortunate that 2016 will be my 10th fundraising ride and 8th Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer.  With the help of thousands of donors over 9 years, my teams and I have raised over $455,000 for the cancer communities in BC and Alberta.

Riding to conquer cancer has become central to my life.  I am convinced we will see a world free from cancer within our lifetime.  Why not join this critical movement in support of Albertans facing cancer and their families?

Why Choose Alberta Cancer Foundation?

We are fortunate in Alberta to be able to invest in a foundation where 100% of all funds go directly to support Albertans.  To underline the impact that the Alberta Cancer Foundation (ACF) makes in the lives of Albertans facing cancer, here are some of the recent accomplishments and continuing programs supported by our donor dollars.

Dr. Ing Swie Goping and the BAD protein

The ACF supports a breast cancer research program, led by Dr. Ing Swie Goping, that has identified a biomarker that could predict who should receive taxane chemotherapy and who shouldn’t.  Taxane chemotherapy is extremely effective in treating some women with breast cancer and not others, but until now we haven’t had a way to know why.  If we could save hundreds of Albertans from undergoing this treatment, which can produce harsh side effects, we could relieve unnecessary suffering and begin alternative treatments sooner.  This is the promise of Dr. Goping and her team’s research.

Lung Cancer Screening

Lung Cancer is one of the most deadly of cancers.  This year alone, 2,000 Albertans are expected to be diagnosed with lung cancer, and sadly 1,700 are expected to die. Early detection presents the greatest opportunity to intervene effectively and save lives, and yet there are no provincial lung cancer screening programs currently in Canada.  The ACF is funding a provincial lung cancer screening project that has just started recruiting patients in both Calgary and Edmonton. The goal of the project is to be the first province to implement a screening program to detect the disease early…hopefully before it is too late.

Enhanced Care

The ACF is unique among cancer foundations…focusing considerable energy on delivering immediate impact on cancer patients and their families through investments in enhanced care at all 17 cancer centres across the province.  They provide support to patients, no matter where they are on their journey. From comfortable chemo chairs or blanket warmers to patient financial assistance that ensures that patients who need it receive financial assistance at their time of greatest need. Patient navigators are another of the worthwhile investments that ACF donors support that make the cancer journey easier and outcomes better, mostly for rural Albertans.

These investments simply would not have been possible without the private funding supplied through events like the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer in support of the ACF.  You can read about all of these programs and more at http://www.albertacancer.ca.

To quote the Alberta Cancer Foundation website:

We strive to be one of the most innovative, philanthropic organizations in Canada by delivering transformational results for Alberta cancer patients and their families. We strategically invest in research and programs that have a direct line of sight to patients. We are taking a bold, new approach to speed progress and bring results to patients faster.

The people that I have met through fundraising and the Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer have become my closest and dearest friends.  Our annual 200km bike ride is both moving and enriching.  I hope you will join us, and if you do, thank you for making an impact in the lives of Albertans facing cancer and their families.

Read my story and donate to the cause here.

Whatever your reason for continuing to support cancer research, thank you.  Here is a short videofesto from the Alberta Cancer Foundation that talks about the impact you are having.

All Statistics from Canadian Cancer Society. Read more.

Team Extreme Style Targetting $250,000 for BC Cancer Foundation


Team Extreme Style at the start of Ride, 2009

In our third year as a recreational cycling team, Alberto European Extreme Style is setting its sights on $250,000 raised for cancer research.

So far we have ridden from Vancouver to Seattle twice, and raised over $190,000 through the Ride to Conquer Cancer.

In Loving Memory: This past year we lost a loved friend and team-mate, Anita Cochrane.  This year’s campaign is dedicated in her honour.  Anita was tireless in her dedication to helping others diagnosed with cancer and I will miss her ready smile and positive outlook.

The team would like to thank returning sponsors Alberto European Extreme Style, Hapa Izakaya and La Bicicletta Pro Shop who have all been with us from our first Ride to Conquer Cancer.  They’ve given us support and shown a dedication to the cause that comes from being touched personally by this disease.

If cancer is your cause, please consider making a donation through our team by clicking here.  Once there you can read about the team, and donate through any of the rider’s pages directly.   The BC Cancer Agency has a record for consistently producing breakthroughs of international significance in the fight against cancer.  If you’d like to read more about their recent contribution to the discovery of new breast cancer oncogenes, and other breakthroughs you can find them here.

Looking forward to sharing the roads with you on the way to this year’s ride to Seattle!

Paul Balfour talks about Progress in Cancer Research


I just read the following blog post from Paul Balfour.  Paul captains the Phillips Hager & North team that raised a total of $292,000 for cancer research at the BC Cancer Foundation last year.  This year Paul has already raised over $60,000 personally, and his team will surpass $350,000 raised.

On the evening before our Ride to Conquer Cancer, this strikes at the heart of why we Ride.  Thanks for the inspiration Paul!

Progress

by Paul Balfour on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 @ 3:41 PM

I think one thing that we in the fundraising community hasn’t done a very good job of is communicating just how much great progress is being made in fighting, and in many cases, curing cancer.

Typically, we set out to fundraise by talking about how awful the disease is (and it is, make no mistake about that) and how incidence rates are rising etc. and but I think perhaps by doing that people get the impression that little progress is being made or that cancer is starting to rage out of control.

Incidence rates for the population as a whole have been increasing but for mostly the simple reason that we are living longer and we have gotten much, much better at preventing deaths in other areas. Far fewer people are dying from heart attacks and strokes, far fewer are dying in car crashes in fact the decline in mortality rates for just about everything is quite remarkable. So, in a sort of good news/bad news story, the increase in incidence rates is concentrated in the older segment of the population living longer and having the chance to develop cancer in the first place and the drop in mortality rates in just about everything else.

But progress in cancer treatment is being made, year in and year out. It’s indisputable. Consider a few observations.

Childhood leukemia used to be fatal 90% of the time. Now it’s a 90% survival rate. Because of research. Testicular cancer (Lance Armstrong) used to be a very serious disease. It still is, but the survival rate is now 96%. Due to research.

Outcomes in breast and prostate cancer have improved in recent years to close to the 90% level. Thanks to research.

There is a disease called CML (Chronic myelogenous leukemia) that used to be pretty much fatal. Scientists knew it was caused by a mutated gene and one day (okay over a period of a couple of years) a drug was discovered called Gleevec and further refined to a pill form. So, you used to die from this cancer and now … as long as you take a pill every day, you’re fine. Cool. All due to research.

What’s also neat is that this same drug works like a charm on a type of nasty stomach cancer. Here’s where it gets really interesting: the two cancers’ cells look absolutely different under the microscope but the same drug “cures” them. Why is that? Well, these two cancers have that same genetic mutation in common.

So, what if we could do a better job of analyzing the genome of the patient for clues as to the causes for cancer and come up with other breakthroughs?

Well guess what the BC Cancer Agency is doing? Exactly that! In fact the Genome Science Centre here in Vancouver is a leader (many say the leader) in this area. Ask a scientist you know sometime how hard it is to get published in the science journal Nature. It’s unbelievably hard. Three significant breakthroughs by the BC Cancer Agency and the Genome Science Centre have been published in Nature in the past twelve months. How many other centres have had three major findings in that period of time? Um, none actually. Two? None.

Pretty impressive I say, right here in little ol’ Vancouver. Also, it’s an open book here we share that research with the rest of Canada and the world, make no mistake about that.

But it takes money. It takes a lot of money to keep this progress going. There are also plenty of patients who are on the wrong side of those survivorship rates and they really need help. There are some tumour groups where we have made very little progress for decades (brain and pancreatic in particular) using conventional therapies my guess is the genome will prove to be the key here. It will take money to do that though.

Please support me if you can, by donating here or at the link below. No donation is too small … and as my friend Michael likes to say, no donation is to big!

Thanks for reading this.

…and thank you Paul!  Here’s a link to his Ride page should you want to make a donation.

http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Vancouver2010/1742352005?px=1759724&pg=personal&fr_id=1331