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!