My reason to ride

Cancer has always been a part of our family’s story. I lost my mum to cervical cancer, my father in law to kidney cancer and my aunt to ovarian cancer.

Despite our family history, nothing prepared me for the day that I was told that I also had cancer. It was mid-2009 and I was told that I was living with stage 4 bowel cancer, had years left to live and would be on chemotherapy for the rest of my life.

To say that the news came as a shock was an understatement. It was life changing and has shaped me as a person from that day forward.

Shortly after my diagnosis, a friend told me about the importance of resistance exercise, which spurred my love of cycling. I began to cycle two to three times a week, changed my diet and did everything I could to look after my body.

My diagnosis ignited a passion in me to do everything I could to fight off this dreaded disease and it’s that passion that has remained me with me ever since that day.

Despite my first diagnosis, a miracle happened—I went into remission and was told that I was cancer free. It was a huge relief and I continued to cycle daily and keep up my fitness. However in November 2016, I was dealt another blow with the doctors finding active cancer cells in my neck.

I once again began chemotherapy and through it all, remained on the bike. I now consider my cancer a chronic condition which needs to be managed through chemotherapy, but doesn’t control my life. I’m hoping for a cure, which is why research is so important and why I’ll continue to fundraise to support our researchers work towards the next breakthrough.

Riding has become my escape, with Ride for a reason becoming a yearly tradition. Every year, I gather with a group of riders to form ‘Team Mishmash’, a literal mishmash of people from across SA, all with different stories and different background but one clear passion – to raise money towards a cancer free future.

Cycling is now very much a part of my life and has given me the unexpected benefit of mental therapy. I credit my cycling, together with a healthy lifestyle and visits to my naturopath for allowing me to outlive my diagnosis. Even when I’m on treatment, I still like to get out on the bike as much as I can. For me, it’s pure freedom.

Through Ride for a reason, I’ve been able to challenge my passion into something that makes a real difference and also made some wonderful, lifelong friends with the same mission in mind.
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