A Chilliwack nurse who had cancer and whose mother died of cancer is once again riding 100 kilometres to raise money for cancer research.
For the second year in a row, Janet Janzen is part of Team Sarah in this year’s Tour de Cure fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation. The team was created last year and named after emergency room nurse Sarah Penner.
Janzen is the head nurse of the operating room at Chilliwack General Hospital where she worked with Penner.
Penner was eight months pregnant with her first child when she lost the baby in April 2019. She later found out she had an unspecified gynecological cancer. She died three months later on July 13, 2019 at the age of 35.
Last year, Janzen was one of more than a dozen people on Team Sarah riding in memory of her. This year, there are only a handful of cyclists on the team, but Janzen said she plans on continuing to ride and raise money in future years as well.
Her mother had four different types of cancer and eventually died of a brain tumour, and as a cancer survivor herself, the fundraiser is an important one to Janzen.
Janzen remembers her mother fondly.
“She was a lovely, caring person. She looked after my four children, I worked full time. It was very difficult.”
Janzen’s mom had cervical cancer in 1978, breast cancer in 1999, and lung cancer 2006 which metastasized into brain cancer 2007.
She died in 2008.
“She always had the positive attitude ‘I’m going to beat it.’ But she knew when she had brain cancer she wouldn’t beat it.”
Ten years later, in 2018, Janzen was diagnosed at the age of 43 with a type of cervical cancer called endocervical adenocarcinoma – an aggressive form of cancer that resulted in a hysterectomy.
“Thankfully, they got it all,” she said.
Her husband was the only one who knew about it – she didn’t tell her kids
“I didn’t want to burden them. I kept it to myself and my husband.”
Two months after her surgery, Janzen was back at work. In the years that followed, she bought a bike and last year her coworkers encouraged her to sign up to be part of Team Sarah.
“Prior to that, I think the longest ride I’d ever done was 10 kilometres, and yet I did the 100 kilometres (in 2021) and it was great,” she said. “I felt great – I worked 21 hours the next day.”
Janzen said her mom would be “shocked” to hear she did the Tour de Cure last year and is doing it again this year.
“She knows that anything I put my mind to I’m going to do, but she would say ‘How would you find time to do this?’”
Three of Jansen’s four kids have graduated high school, but they’re all actively involved in sports and Janzen tries not to miss any of their games. Her family will be cheering her on as she rides on Aug. 27.
The route Janzen is doing covers 100 kilometres through Abbotsford and Chilliwack on Aug. 27. There’s also a 160-kilometre route and a 50-kilometre route.
The Tour de Cure fundraiser for the BC Cancer Foundation starts and ends at Chilliwack Heritage Park. To donate to Janzen or Team Sarah, go to tourdecure.ca/participant/2836578/4014.