Why I’m Riding the 2011 Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer
By Mary Jane McKeen
It was January 20, 1993, and the words: “There is a problem. It is malignant,” are words and a moment in time forever etched in my memory. In a few seconds, my life changed forever. I was diagnosed with cancer in the parotid (saliva) gland and the tumor was imbedded in the main trunk nerve of my face. Following surgery and radiation treatments my face was paralyzed for 6 months, however all feeling did come back. What a miracle!
Eighteen years later, I’m a 68 year-old woman thrilled to be able to ride 200km in my second Ride to Conquer Cancer; a two day cycling journey from Toronto to Niagara Falls, benefiting Princess Margaret Hospital, where I received my cancer treatment. The training and commitment to prepare for this ride is nothing compared to the trauma of dealing with cancer. It may sound crazy to ride 200 kilometers on a bike over two days but I‘d much rather be on my bike than lying under a radiation machine. The Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer is a great way for me to give back for all the help I received during my cancer journey.
The 2010 Ride to Conquer Cancer was amazing. After opening ceremonies, filled with emotion of my survival and remembrance of those we have lost, over 4000 cyclists heard the words: READY – SET – RIDE! Riders of all ages hopped on their bikes to begin the 2-day journey. I joined the pack, felt the breeze and knew I was in the right place.
Every detail—pit stops, smiling volunteers, cheering crowds—gave me energy from start to finish! The rain didn’t dampen my spirits. I rode along taking in the beautiful scenery, saying hello to fellow riders and sharing our stories. As I pedaled into camp on Saturday I was welcomed by volunteers, a field of blue tents, a hot shower, and plenty of food for all. Everyone was asleep by 9PM and woke Sunday morning to the smell of a hot breakfast. Then back on my bike, for day two of a beautiful ride.
About 11 kilometers from Niagara Falls I saw the mist. I pedaled as fast as I could go and flew across the finish line. Tears were streaming down my face, I made it!!! What a joy to know I did something REALLY BIG in the fight to conquer cancer.
I continue to train for the 2011 ENBRIDGE RIDE TO CONQUER CANCER. As I did last year, I will carry the names of all my physicians, family, donors and friends in a zip lock bag in the middle pocket of my jersey. That way I never ride alone. Your spirit gives me energy.
Do I still sound crazy riding 200km? I want to conquer cancer in my lifetime. Don’t you? I encourage all women to be apart of this epic experience.
Mary Jane McKeen
Participant # 551165-7