Local cyclists conquer cancer with their wheels

Chilliwack "Team Wobbly Legs" prepares for the 200-km BC Ride to Conquer Cancer taking place August 29-30.

Team Wobbly Legs prepares for the 2015 BC Ride to Conquer Cancer August 29-30. The team is made up of Tracy Thengs (left)

Team Wobbly Legs prepares for the 2015 BC Ride to Conquer Cancer August 29-30. The team is made up of Tracy Thengs (left)

A two-day, 200-km bike ride is nothing compared to a battle with cancer. Louise Scott knows what that’s like, all too well.

This weekend’s BC Ride to Conquer Cancer, presented by Silver Wheaton, benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation, takes riders from Colverdale all the way to Redmond, Washington.

Louise and her Chilliwack team, “Team Wobbly Legs” had a great ride at last year’s event.  Louise rode in honour of her sister, Suzanne, who had passed away in 2012 after a long fight with breast cancer.

“I’d heard about the ride for years and, as a cyclist, had always wanted to do it,” Louise explains. “When cancer touched my family, it just became that much more important.”

After a year of grieving and healing from the loss of her sister, and her mother six weeks later, Louise was ready to join her friend Glenn Cooke of Team Wobbly Legs to do the ride in 2014. The team also rode for Colleen, Glenn’s wife, who had recently been diagnosed with cancer.

“It was amazing,” Louise says regarding last year’s ride. “We had wet, cold, ugly weather – but it didn’t matter. You’re riding with so many people who are so inspirational.” Many of whom are cancer survivors, identified by a yellow flag.

The 2,600 riders, of all ages, shapes and sizes, support one another throughout the ride. Each of them is there for a reason – fighting to find a cure for cancer.

Finding a cure is more important now than ever for Louise, who herself was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.

In January, she found a lump in her breast. Though the lump turned out to be benign, it brought her in to the doctor a few months before her next scheduled mammogram.

What they found shocked her. After an exhausting, stressful two-month diagnostic process, the doctor did not have good news for Louise. “He looked up and told me that “yes, it’s cancer – and it’s aggressive,” just like my sister’s was. I couldn’t believe it.”

Louise was fast-tracked into her treatment plan, which required a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Even though Louise was told that she’d still be undergoing treatment when the race came around, she knew that she “was going to do the ride, no matter what.” Even if that meant going a little slower and only riding on the Canadian side, to reduce the risk.

Team Wobbly Legs has raised $12,715 this year through family, friends, coworkers and community fundraisers. To date, the BC Ride has raised more than $59 million to support cancer research and enhancements to the BC Cancer Agency.

“It really wasn’t that hard to raise the money,” Louise explains. “People are generous when it comes to cancer. It hits close to home for a lot of people.”

Though the money has been raised, Louise is incredibly disappointed that she won’t be able to ride this year. A fall on the 2-km bike ride home after a team meeting on Thursday left her with a broken collarbone.

“There’s just nothing like crossing that finish line” she says. “It’s unreal.” And while not having her sister waiting for her at the finish line is by far the toughest part of the ride, the overwhelming sense of accomplishment at the end is the most rewarding.

Louise will be there on Saturday morning for the inspirational and emotional opening ceremonies, and to see off her team: Glenn, Heather and Tracy.

“I’m already registered for 2016, and I’m planning to do the entire ride,” Louise says. She’ll ride proudly – for herself, for Suzanne, and for everyone who’s lives have been altered by cancer, with her yellow survivor flag in the air.