Why I ride: Bryn Currie's Ride to Conquer Cancer story

2015-05-25  |  Fellow Fundraiser |  Posted by: Kate Pettersen

Bryn Currie & Dr. Scott Morrison

Surely you have met him or her: the one who emerges, most days, into a room with a broad smile, a friendly touch and speaks directly to you. In that intimate moment there are only two of you, but this time, the question asked is “why?” - And you realize the ‘she’ is your own reflection looking back at you in a mirror.

At some point in your life you will ask “why.” You may not ever be touched directly with cancer or a life threatening illness, but its notice and its impact has a way of arriving when you least expect it. And when it does, you will be tested beyond all imaginable expectations. That is a guarantee. Some will succeed, others will not; everyone will be changed.

I have received such notices myself: lost friends to cancer, watched friends who have lost a child to cancer, or a spouse, or a parent to cancer. And I have had friends who rang the bell and who fought back. Each time I ask, “why?”

Two years ago, I received a call from a good friend. One of his fellow surgeons had recently died of cancer and their small cycling team from Eastern Ontario wanted someone to ride in his place. That’s how, in 2013, I got involved in my first Ride to Conquer Cancer. But cancer has its own timetable and I wasn’t called until April; little time to train. I doubled up on my spin classes, and borrowed a road bike from a friend who is a serious cyclist. He recommended I get fitted for a woman’s road bike but I politely declined. I did not have time to research bikes. How appropriate, really: cancer doesn’t always fit like a glove: it attaches, and tries to gain a stronghold on your immunity; I needed a bike, not comfort.

A couple of weeks before the ride I went to Prince Edward County, bike in tow, to test my legs with my new team (a lucky choice, I thought, to align oneself as a first-timer to a team of doctors) and helped raise money for our small group. We did the Niagara-to-Hamilton return loop. The group had done the Toronto-to-Niagara the previous year. We camped at tent city. We spoke with survivors and listened to many stories about how cancer has touched everyone in some way. We cried listening to stories, and gained new knowledge about where donated money goes and what kind of research is being done and the successes year over year. What struck me that first year was the outpouring of support: families along the route with signs saying thank you, parents, friends all with a common connection. One teenager had a sign that read, “He would be here too… thank you.”

The Princess Margaret Hospital Cancer Foundation is a world-class facility with Canadian discoveries. We can now map a genome in a couple of weeks; it used to take months. We’ve discovered stem-cells and precision medicine allowing people to target or personalize their treatment. I’m neither a doctor nor a science major, just an engaged, lay-person who keeps asking “why.” And I want to do something meaningful; something to help that makes a measurable difference. Maybe it’s all I can do, but I hope my natural altruistic nature can be a bridge to finding a cure, and I hope to enlist others to do the same.