For someone who hasn’t ridden a bike in nearly a decade, the decision to train for a 200 km bike ride done over two days doesn’t come lightly.
But when that same person has watched family and friends do the same thing in her honour and survived a brain tumour diagnosed during her pregnancy, a bike ride starts to look like less of a big deal.
Add that the ride in question is the annual Ride to Conquer Cancer, a massive fundraising group ride that attracts not only cancer survivors but people still going through treatment, and it’s almost inevitable that Lindsay Weir would swing her leg over a bike to take part.
“Seeing other yellow flags out there, I know there are people going through treatment that are on their bikes,” she said, referring to the flags given to cancer survivors and patients. “It’s very physically challenging, but very emotionally challenging as well.”
“If they can do it, then I can do it.”
About five years ago Weir started suffering from debilitating headaches toward the end of her pregnancy. At first her doctor believed they were part of pregnancy, but when the headaches got so bad she couldn’t stand up, her husband Eric took her to the doctor again, and she was sent for a CAT scan and an MRI.
Doctors at St. Michael’s Hospital discovered a mass in her front right lobe, and a whirlwind chain of events was set in motion.
Weir underwent a c-section, and her daughter Makenna was delivered five weeks early. While she was still under anaesthetic, a biopsy was done. The mass was inoperable and she was diagnosed with stage-four cancer. Chemotherapy treatments were done weekly for the next year at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
In the meantime, family and friends did everything they could to help out the family as Weir underwent treatment through the first year of her daughter’s life. It was days before she even had the chance to hold Makenna.
Doctors told Weir that without the pregnancy, she likely never would have experienced the same symptoms, and might not have discovered the cancer in time – one more reason to be grateful for Makenna, now in kindergarten.
“She basically saved my life,” said Weir.
Now she’s training daily for the ride, just one more intimidating challenge to face for Weir, who is hoping Makenna will learn from the experience as well.
“I think it’s time for me to show her that with strength and determination you can do anything,” she said.
Team Lindsay has grown from a few close relatives to a group of 23 this year, and although Weir has already surpassed her $2,500 minimum fundraising threshold, the team is always looking to bring in more funds through the ride, which raises money for Princess Margaret Cancer Centre.
“It’s very humbling,” said Weir of the support of her family and friends. “I’m very, very lucky to have the support of my family and my husband Eric.”
At the finish line Makenna will be there to cheer on her parents, and Weir hopes the ride might become a family tradition. McKenna is already riding a bike, though it does have training wheels.
“Hopefully one day all three of us can do the ride together,” said Weir.
The Ride to Conquer Cancer, started in 2008, has raised more than $119 million for Princes Margaret. Every year thousands of cyclists pedal from Toronto to Niagara Falls over two days.
To make a donation, search Team Lindsay under the donation section at conquercancer.ca.