How riders are making a difference in battle against cancer
OpEd Opinion piece, page 42, The West Australian: 21 October 2021, by Professor Peter Leedman AO
For the tenth year I rode to Mandurah and back over the weekend as part of a remarkable Perth event, the MACA Cancer 200 Ride for Research.
It’s never easy covering 200km even over two days, but being alongside such giving people, riders who are wanting to make a difference to the rates of cancer and its devastating impact, lessens the aches and pains.
This year a record 1,500 riders of all ages, raised an astonishing $7 million for WA’s Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research.
We gathered at dawn next to the barrel of Optus Stadium. On stage a rider courageously told her cancer story. In the silent, focused crowd, a small group of riders leant stoically against their bikes, all sporting yellow flags. They are cancer survivors and patients in treatment riding to help research make a difference.
A silent salute acknowledged those lost to this insidious disease and then the record-breaking amount raised so far was revealed. A staggering amount, on its way to help find answers to this terrible disease.
The difference this contribution makes is enormous.
For patients with hard-to-treat cancers such as triple negative breast cancer, drug resistant melanoma, pancreatic and liver cancers or brain tumours, new research discoveries are the only way new treatments will be found.
Cancer patients will be the ultimate winners of this event, Australia’s most successful charity bike ride, but the bonding, sharing and caring between riders is what’s moving me most.
About two thirds of the riders are men, not noted for emotional outpouring. But once 100kms has been ticked off their journey and there’s time to sit and talk at the halfway mark in Mandurah, heartfelt stories pour out about their own cancer battles and the suffering of people they love.
Many Perkins researchers fundraise and ride too and whether on the road or at the overnight camp there’s time to thank riders supporting our work and to talk about our research.
During the evening another cancer survivor spoke.
This year 46-year-old father of two, Rohan McGlew, talked of how the ride for him was very personal.
Last year he’d volunteered to give blood to help others.
As part of the regular blood-screening process, something unusual was found.
Screening led to a double primary cancer diagnosis of a kidney cancer and the blood cancer, multiple myeloma.
It was unexpected and hard to fathom. He’d gone to give to others and came out as a cancer patient.
He now lives with a currently incurable cancer.
It’s for people like Rohan, and for all the riders, that we will stay at the lab bench and keep finding new ways to beat this terrible disease. It’s why we ride.