By Tamara Guerin
Published: Aug 8, 2016
It’s a day I will never forget: June 24, 2010.. My mom, Kathy Ramage, told me she had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer. My mom was only 49 and very full of life at the time. It was devastating for the whole family, made up of my dad, brother, husband and two daughters. We also had an overwhelming feeling of helplessness set in as we watched the person we loved go through treatment.
We knew the diagnosis wasn’t good, although we never asked doctors until the last few months what the prognosis would be. These are tough questions to ask. We knew that we had to start making memories everyday and help my mom fight her battle. I knew I needed to do something to feel like I was making a difference for my mom and for the thousands of others diagnosed with cancer in BC every year. So, I decided to sign up for the Ride to Conquer Cancer presented by Silver Wheaton benefiting the BC Cancer Foundation. The first year I rode was 2012 and it was a bit daunting. I had never been on a road bike before. In fact, I didn’t even own one.
A good friend of mine gave me his bike and a man named Dave at Corsa Cycle helped fit it to me the best he could. With a new to me bike, a pair of padded shorts, clip shoes for the bike, a helmet and a good friend who lost her dad to cancer by my side, I was off. I wish I could say it was easy but I can’t. The Ride was both physically and mentally challenging. The first year I rode, my mom and dad followed along the over 200-kilometre route to cheer fellow riders and me on.
Seeing my mom as I rode was the motivation I needed to keep on going. She was so incredibly proud and grateful of everyone that participated. As I finished day two of the Ride, my mom was unfortunately stuck in traffic and never got to see me cross the finish line; it was very emotional for both of us. From the day I started riding, I had said I would ride until mom got better or passed away. In September of 2012, we finally asked how long we had left and doctors told us when my mom first started treatment, they would have given her six months to live, but at that point, she was at two-and-a-half-years. Judging by the advancement of the cancer, doctors predicted my mom would only have a few more months to live.
I credit the extra two years of life I got with my mom to the amazing work done at the BC Cancer Agency. The funds raised from the Ride to Conquer Cancer enable the BC Cancer foundation to support breakthrough research and care at the BC Cancer Agency. We saw this first hand, with some of the fairly new treatments my mom received, treatments that only a few dozen people had endured previously.
Sadly, on November 26, 2012 with me and my dad by her side, my beloved mom passed away. This is a day that has changed me forever and although I had said I would stop riding I could not imagine not completing the Ride that year. With a heavy heart and my family following along, I got back on the bike and finished my second ride in 2013. After that, the Ride to Conquer Cancer became something I could do to remember my mom and support those around that were also affected by cancer.
This year marks the eighth annual BC Ride and my fifth Ride. A special honor given to five year riders is a golden helmet and I am so excited to have earned mine this year. To date, the BC ride has raised over $70 million for the BC Cancer Foundation. To participate in the Ride you must raise a total of $2,500, which I remember thinking was a lot but thanks to some creative fundraising, amazing donors and great friends I have raised over $25,000 in the last five years, alone.
With the 2016 Ride being my golden helmet year, I have set my fundraising goal to $10,000 and I am, over half-way there. There’s still time to donate.